U.S. religious freedom head silent on Egypt

By May 11, 2011

USA (MNN) — 12 people are dead and churches have been torched as Muslims have again lashed out against minority Christians. We told you about this story yesterday. Unfortunately the United States government has been almost quiet about the situation.

Advocacy Director for Open Doors USA Lindsay Vessey says, "I have looked for any type of statement by Dr. Susan Johnson Cook, the new Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, and I haven't been able to find any statement by her. That is a little surprising, because Egypt is one the top countries where there's been more violence against religious minorities, especially since President Mubarak was ousted."

Vessey says this should be a priority for Johnson Cook. "I don't know if it's because she's so new that she hasn't been involved with making statements yet, or if it's some kind of internal policy that the State Department doesn't want to speak out about it."

The only statement that's been issued comes from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which Vessey says is inaccurate. "Two churches were attacked and burned down by mobs. The Egyptian Security Forces didn't show up for a couple of hours to help stop the violence, and the U.S. government is calling it 'sectarian violence.' To me, that doesn't really add up."

Many believe there was some violence, but Christians were only acting in self defense.

Research indicates the situation isn't expected to get any better. Vessey says, "The Pew Forum has done a study in which they discovered that 80% of Egyptians believe that you should get the death penalty for converting away from Islam."

She says the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are vying for power in the new Egypt, both of which will place incredible pressure on Christians in that nation.

If this happens, says Vessey, you could see another Iraq. "A lot of the Christians are considering leaving the country at this point. Christians aren't sure when they're going to be attacked. And they can be attacked under false accusations. I think it's definitely going to impede the spread of the Gospel and make people a little more nervous about sharing the Gospel freely."

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