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Events of the past few weeks demonstrate that violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt is on the increase. The Egyptian Army has failed to intervene and the media is spreading rumors that arouse hostility and suspicion toward Copts and Israel. The Egyptian army and the Muslim leaders are trying to blame the Copts for the attacks they have endured. Muslim extremists are calling for Copts to leave the country.
Investigations into attacks on Copts at Imbaba and Maspero indicate that Egyptian leaders are not serious about punishing perpetrators.
A small number of Coptic Christians have protested outside the United States Embassy in Cairo. This is a hugely important step. Copts in Egypt have been typically reluctant to ask for help from the West for fear of arousing suspicions from their fellow citizens. The fact that even a small number of Copts has gone public with their pleas to the U.S. indicates that the hostility toward their community is unprecedented. These people will likely be arrested and receive a harsh sentence for their actions.
Coptic Christians and their allies living in the U.S. can play a huge role in drawing attention to the mistreatment of their friends and relatives in Egypt. Here are some suggestions on how to proceed in the next few days – before the end of the week.
Contact your U.S. Representative and your Senator.
If you contact them by phone, you won’t be able to speak to the lawmaker directly, but you will be able to speak to a staffer who tallies the number of calls regarding important issues of the day.
Immediately tell the staffer your name, where you live and say that you are a constituent of the lawmaker’s. Then report that you are calling about attacks on Christians in Egypt. Tell them this is a high priority issue.
Ask the staffer what their boss is going to do in response to these attacks. Is their boss going to work on a resolution to send a message to the Egyptian military – which receives a substantial amount of military aid from the American taxpayer?
Tell the staffer that not only has the Egyptian military attacked monasteries, it has failed to respond to the attacks against a number of churches in a timely manner.
Be quick and too the point and be polite and respectful.
Do not attack Islam or Muslims. Focus on the failure of the Egyptian government to protect the rights of the country’s Coptic citizens.
It’s only one call, but they add up. The more phone calls lawmakers get from their constituents, the more attention they will pay to this issue.
Contact the White House. Tell them that violence against Christians in Egypt is on the rise and that Egyptian leaders need to hear a ringing expression of support for the safety of Copts in their country. You can contact the White House through this website. Callers can leave comments at (202) 456-1111. Faxes can be sent to (202) 456-2461. Again, the more phone calls and faxes, the more attention President Obama will pay to this issue.
Contact the U.S. Department of State. Call (202) 647-4000 and ask to leave a message for Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State. Leave your name and city and state that Coptic Christians have been subject to increasing levels of violence in Egypt. Ask that Secretary Clinton express the appropriate level of outrage over the failure of the Egyptian government to protect the safety of Copts. Again, be short, to the point and do not attack Islam or Muslims. Emphasize the failure of the Egyptian government to protect its citizens.
Reach out to your fellow Christians in your communities. Tell them about the attacks that have taken place against the monasteries in Upper Egypt, the church in Helwan, and most recently in Imbaba. Ask your neighbors to call their Senators and their U.S. Representatives. Ask them to call the White House and the U.S. State Department. (Send them a link to this page.)
Call local churches in your area and ask to speak to the pastor. If you can get through to the pastor, ask that they offer a word of prayer on behalf of the Coptic Christians in Egypt during their upcoming services. If you can only get through to the church secretary, do not despair, because church secretaries are hugely influential. Ask for an email so that you can send links to relevant articles about the attacks that have taken place and ask that they forward them to the pastor. Leave a phone number for the pastor to call you back.
Hold a vigil in the town common. Ask local church leaders to participate and inform the local media. The most logical time to have such a vigil in the U.S. is Thursday evening, the day before Friday prayers take place in Egypt. Historically, most attacks against Christians have taken place after these prayers. Reach out to the Assyrian community in your area.
If there is a Coptic Church in your community, call the local newspaper and tell them about the attacks in Egypt and inform them that there is a local angle to a story of international importance.
The time to act is now. Copts and their allies in the U.S. can draw attention to the mistreatment of Christians in Egypt and pressure leaders in both the Middle East and the U.S. to protect the rights of Christians throughout the region.