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Egypt Chapter - 2017 Annual Report

Egypt Chapter - 2017 Annual Report

Arabic Translation

Key Findings

Despite the government’s widespread repression of human rights, religious freedom conditions improved in several areas over the past year. President Abdel Fattah Sisi consistently condemned sectarian attacks and pressed for assistance for victims and accountability for perpetrators, pushed for reform in religious discourse, and attended a Coptic Christmas Eve mass for the third consecutive year. In August, the newly-seated parliament passed a long-awaited law on the construction and maintenance of churches and, by early 2017, the government completed rebuilding and restoring more than 50 churches destroyed by extremists in 2013. While sectarian attacks targeting Christians spiked, particularly in Upper Egypt and North Sinai, and a major suicide bombing occurred near St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, Egyptian courts made some progress in bringing to justice perpetrators of past attacks. In 2016, prosecutions, convictions, and imprisonment of Egyptian citizens for blasphemy and related charges decreased. Some discriminatory and repressive laws and policies that restrict freedom of religion or belief remain in place, but public debates occurred in parliament and civil society on a range of religious freedom concerns. Based on these developments, while still deeply concerned by the deplorable human rights conditions in Egypt, USCIRF places Egypt on its Tier 2, as it did from 2002 to 2010. From 2011 to 2016, USCIRF had recommended that Egypt be designated as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA).