Hosted by Emad Eddin Adib in his talk show “Behodou##”, literally “Quietly”, on CBC satellite TV channel, Bahaa## Ramzy, head of the Dutch Coptic Institution, patiently explained to viewers the truth behind the allegation that the Netherlands was opening the door for asylum to Copts
Hosted by Emad Eddin Adib in his talk show “Behodou##”, literally “Quietly”, on CBC satellite TV channel, Bahaa## Ramzy, head of the Dutch Coptic Institution, patiently explained to viewers the truth behind the allegation that the Netherlands was opening the door for asylum to Copts. Ramzy pointed to the recent furor in the Egyptian media over the alleged Dutch decision, insisting the entire matter was but a media slip-up.
The Egyptian press claimed that the Dutch Embassy opened the door wide for the immigration of Copts to the Netherlands, as if it had been closed before, Ramzy said. He explained that the decision was issued by the Dutch Minister of Immigration and not the Dutch parliament as the media claimed, and concerned more lenient assessment of the cases of persecuted Copts seeking asylum. Each case, he said, would be investigated in its own right by the Dutch authorities.
No rule of law for Copts
Ramzi said the Dutch government##s decision had been taken following thorough studies on the question of the persecution of Copts, as well as field visits by Dutch MPs to Egypt. The result was that there was a conviction in the Netherlands that the Egyptian government disregards the protection of Copts and, in case of attacks against Copts, does not implement the rule of law. The culprits who committed crimes against Copts were almost never brought to justice; the Egyptian authorities sufficed with holding traditional ##conciliation sessions##, out-of-court settlements in which the Copts were obliged to relinquish their rights.
The Dutch Immigration Minister##s decision, Ramzi said, specifically targeted those who Egyptian Christian converts who had been born into Islam, a sector of individuals who were subjected to severe persecution in Egypt and who were offered no protection whatsoever by Egyptian authorities.
According to Ramzi, a meeting is scheduled next October between Coptic organisations in Europe and the European Parliament, because the EU Parliament might decide to take the same measures as the Dutch government once it makes sure the Dutch decision is justified.
Internationally, a group or an individual is seen to be persecuted when—among other things—they are subjected to restrictions against practicing their faith, or when they are victims of attacks because of their political or religious beliefs but the relevant authorities in their home country refrain from offering them any protection.
What the Islamists want
For his part, the Coptic politician Emad Gad said in the same show that many Copts do feel persecuted. When Adib said that there was now a Copt among the consultants of President Mursi, Gad said that this was not much of an indication to the contrary, since the consultant##s authorities were not known. “Ever since the Islamists came to power,” he said, “The Copts have been feeling the pinch; the tide in the street has turned against them. Coptic women are not infrequently harassed or spat upon because they do not wear hijab,” he said.
The rights activist and founder of al-Hayat Party, Michael Meunier reminded that many Copts do face persecution in Egypt, and the authorities fall short of protecting them. President Mursi, Meunier said, recently pardoned the hardline Salafi Sheikh Wagdy Ghoneim who was in prison for insulting Christianity, the Church and the late Pope Shenouda III. The presidential move, he said, threw to the wind all consideration of the indignity inflicted by Sheikh Ghoneim against Egypt##s Christians.
In Beni Sweif, the Coptic liberal activist Mina Fathy, who heads the Coptic youth group Rebellion Against Silence, rejected the idea of Copts emigrating from Egypt. The Dutch decision, Fathy said, would work to pave the way for turning Egypt into an Islamic emirate. This should be easy once the Copts leave, he said, which is exactly what the Islamists hope to achieve.
12 September 2012
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