Washington must not evaluate religious freedom in Egypt, says official

Egypt rejected on Saturday the US State Department report on religious freedoms, saying that Washington does not have the right to evaluate religious freedoms in the Muslim-dominated country.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hossam Zaki said that the report "was published by a party that has no right to run evaluations on this subject, and therefore it is unacceptable in principle."

Zaki added that "Egypt stresses its rejection of any state appointing itself guardian over independent and sovereign states," emphasizing that "every state is the most capable of understanding its own problems and challenges, and the most able to effectively deal with them."

Zaki said that the report presented an "unbalanced picture" of the status of religious freedoms in Egypt.

The annual US State Department report on religious freedoms around the world, published Wednesday, criticized "the practice of religious discrimination against Christians and Baha'is" in Egypt, saying that they do not enjoy equal opportunities to pursue government jobs.

The report said that converts from Islam to Christianity face numerous restrictions, the most noteworthy of which is the government's refusal to issue the converts new identification documents which reflect their conversion to Christianity.

For the first time this year, Egyptian churches welcomed the report, saying that Christians face discrimination in Egypt, and that the government bears responsibility for its poor standing in the report because it has failed to address past criticisms.

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