The Egyptian Coalition for Human Rights and Development (ECHRD) last Saturday 4 July launched its report “Preachers of Hate” which documents the crimes committed by the Muslim Brothers (MB) and their supporters against the Copts, Egypt’s Christians, during the period from 30 June 2013 till 31 May 2015. The date 30 June 2013 marks the day some 30 million Egyptians took to the street in peaceful protest against the post-Arab Spring MB regime which was then overthrown on 3 July 2013.
Why the silence?
The 45-page ECHRD report was drafted basing on the monitoring and documentation mechanisms set by the United Nations.
It begins with tackling the reason behind the failure of Egyptian and international human rights organisations to condemn the MB crimes against the Copts. The reason, according to the report, is that these organisations adopted the viewpoint propagated by Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard Law School, in his book After Jihad: US and the Struggle for the Islamic democracy which stresses the need to communicate and interact with the MB as part of the US policy. Feldman endorsed the concept that not all streams of political Islam are enemies of the US, and that communication channels should be built with some of them to look for a political Islam stream whose interests do not contradict with those of the US. That vision was visibly put into effect by 2002.
Feldman’s theory, according to the report, was welcomed by rights organisations that belong to the political anarchist stream which uses human rights as an umbrella and tool to acquire funding in order to achieve the end of destroying State institutions. The attitude of these organisations coincides with that of the US and other western countries who adopt the policy of alliance with the MB; the MB is the ideal partner for achieving the purpose of generating anarchy. This policy inherently implies that those who call for ‘Creative Chaos’ must overlook the MB’s violations of human rights in Egypt.
Among the most important results cited in the report:
• MB assault against Copts in the two years that followed 30 June 2013 resulted in the fall of 149 Coptic victims. The second half of 2013 recorded the highest average of victims at a rate of 6.4 cases a month.
• 24 Copts were killed by the MB and their supporters during that period. This represents a very high rate of 1.04 case monthly.
• 125 Copts were injured at the hands of the extremist groups. The injuries were the result of direct attacks with knives or sticks and clubs; or were the outcome of hurling stones, demolishing houses or setting them on fire.
• The researchers reported 158 incidents of attacks that targeted Egypt’s Copts whether as individuals, churches, or Coptic-owned property.
• Among the numerous assault of churches and church-owned buildings such as community centres, clinics or schools, four churches were demolished or totally ruined.
• Along the 23 months in question, the churches of Egypt witnessed attacks against 94 churches; at an average of 4.02 a month, a very high rate.
• The governorate of Minya in Upper Egypt alone witnessed 97 incidents of assault against Coptic individuals or places of worship, the highest in all Egypt.
• Researchers reported that 65 per cent of the attacks against Copts were waged by members of the MB or MB supporters; 27 per cent were incited by the MB, and 8 per cent were conducted by ordinary individuals.
Recommendations for the Egyptian government
• The Egyptian government should make sure the perpetrators of crimes against Copts do not flee justice.
• Judicial investigations should be promptly conducted and publicised.
• The Egyptian government should work to conduct comprehensive, unbiased, independent investigations, and to promptly take the culprits to court.
• The government should secure fair trials for the defendants, and should allow the public to follow up the trials, for the victims to be assured that the criminals do not flee justice.
• The Interior Ministry should promptly take all the measures required to ensure Copts are not subject to assault in the future.
• The Interior Ministry should afford protection for witnesses and secure their safety from any potential attack against them for having given their testimony.
• The government should provide financial and moral compensation for the Copts whose property, shops or churches are attacked.
• Legislative amendments should be enacted to allow swift justice for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Egypt.
Recommendations for media
• The international and local media should monitor issues of sectarian violence objectively, through more than one source, without any kind of bias.
• The local media should expand its coverage of sectarian attacks through multiple journalistic and technical forms. It should do more investigative reporting on these incidents, with the aim of exposing social flaws that need to be dealt with.
• The media should cover all the various viewpoints of the different parties involved in the acts of violence.
• Media establishments should work to be accurate and precise when tackling religious issues, and should halt the appearance of promoters of violence on the various media channels.
Recommendations for international rights organisations
• International rights organisations should adopt internationally recognised standards, major among them are the principles of monitoring and documentation set by the UN, in monitoring and documenting human rights violations.
• When issuing reports on the situation in Egypt, international rights organisations should study the on-the-ground reality of the Egyptian people who rebelled against religious [Islamist] fascism, and are paying the price of this rebellion in having to sustain terrorist attacks and attempts at inciting political and sectarian violence.
• International organisations should depend in their reports on what they monitor on the ground, not on false or non-authenticated information. They should not cite unidentified sources who they then denote as ‘eyewitnesses’.
• Egyptian and international rights organisations should conduct their work away from the political inclinations of any perpetrators or victims of violations. Their only inclination should be inherently towards the principles of human rights.
The Egyptian Coalition for Human Rights and Development is a coalition of eight Egyptian human rights groups: the Forum For Development and Human rights Dialogue, al-Hak Foundation for Freedom of Expression and Human Rights, the Arab Foundation for Democratic Studies and Human Rights; the Open Door Foundation for Human Rights, Egyptians Without Borders, the Association of Egyptian Female Lawyers, the Rural Development Association, the Human Rights Training and Sustainable Development Foundation.
7 July 2015