The Washington Post -- Christian-Muslim Tension in Egypt: Religious Freedom Must Prevail

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The Washington Post: Christian-Muslim Tension in Egypt: Religious Freedom Must Prevail

By Leonard Leo and Elizabeth H. Prodromou

March 16, 2011

It is not enough to advocate that Egypt’s demonstrators be heard and heeded. That alone could usher in a new form of tyranny. The United States must support actions to strengthen universal human rights, including the individual right to freedom of conscience or belief.

The U.S. should encourage the new Egyptian government to lift the state of emergency; prosecute the perpetrators of sectarian violence in regular criminal courts; pass a unified law on building and maintaining places of worship; remove religious affiliation from identity documents; end discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities; repeal bans on Baha’is and Jehovah’s Witnesses; revoke Egypt’s blasphemy law; and ratify a constitution that enshrines rule of law and ensures robust protection for religious freedom.

The will of the majority should not be ignored. But the rights of individuals and minorities, including the right to religious freedom, must also be protected. That should be the response to the recent court verdict. Both messages are critical to a stable, democratic future for Egypt.

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USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives. USCIRF’s principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.

To interview a USCIRF Commissioner, contact Tom Carter, Communications Director at tcarter@uscirf.gov , or (202) 523-3257.

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