(Photo: Reuters/Ismail Zetouny)
An international Coptic religious rights group will host a conference focused on U.S. foreign policy in response to the rise of extremism in the Middle East. The group says its event is of added significance in light of the recent election results in Egypt.
Coptic Solidarity has scheduled a "Policy Education Day" at the U.S. Capitol building on Thursday, only days after the major upheaval created by the election of an Islamist, who ran on a Sharia implementation agenda, as president of Egypt.
"The Policy Day is now even more important in light of the high level of uncertainty that the new president and his party will protect human and minority rights," Coptic Solidarity states. "The focus of the Policy Day is 'U.S. National Security and Advancing Human and Minority Rights in Egypt: Is there a policy connection?' with a special focus on policy imperatives, and U.S. foreign policy responses to the rise of extremism in the Middle East."
Coptic Solidarity is an organization seeking to help minorities, particularly the Copts, of Egypt and support those "working for democracy, freedom, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens." Coptic Christians represent around 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million population, according to previous estimates. Their status in Egypt was somewhat protected under former President Hosni Mubarak, but has been tenuous since his ousting and their future is unclear.
The organization has its headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area with key branches currently in Paris (for Europe) and Cairo. The group believes that the international community plays a key role in helping ensure the protection and upholding of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.
Speakers planned for the policy discussion include several members of Congress, a number of prominent politicians, academics, human rights experts, and policymakers.
Those scheduled to speak include David Alton, member of the U.K. House of Lords; Commissioner Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the USCIRF; Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute; Walid Phares, adviser to the Anti-Terrorism Caucus in the U.S. Congress; Emilie Kao Esq., previously at the Office of International Religious Freedom at the U.S. Department of State; and Tawfik Hamid, chair for the Study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.
The Coptic Solidarity Third Annual Conference continues on Friday with additional speakers, including both academic and advocacy experts, focusing on the status of religious freedom in the Middle East, the U.S. approach to religious freedom in the Middle East, and the situation of minorities under Islamic rule.
Speakers include Ann Buwalda Esq., director of Jubilee Campaign; Carl A. Moeller, CEO of Open Doors; Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East and Islam specialist; and Jordan Sekulow, director at the American Center for Law & Justice.
Also taking part in the conference are Coptic activists and representatives of Middle Eastern communities, Arab and Muslim Liberals, and NGOs.
For more information about the conference, click here: www.copticsolidarity.org.