Egypt could face sanctions over sectarianism

Leonard Leo, chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, told US news channel Fox News Saturday that the US State Department was "concerned" over the state of religious freedom in Egypt, especially in light of recent acts of violence against the country’s Coptic minority.

Leo went on to criticize the Egyptian government for not officially recognizing Muslims that convert to Christianity. He attributed the lack of religious tolerance in Egypt to the fact that perpetrators of violent acts against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities were often not brought to trial, and to the fact that Egyptian law discriminates against religious minorities.

Last year, the US State Department put Egypt on its "watch-list" of countries that permit religious discrimination, and Egypt might soon be further downgraded to its list of countries of "special concern." Egypt, the recipient of some US$2 billion in US assistance every year, might even face sanctions if the state of religious freedoms does not improve, said Leo.

The commission will issue its annual report on religious freedoms in Egypt and other Arab states next May.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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