Four years on from Egypt’s uprising, are Copts better off?

Voice of the Copts, by Asma Ajroudi-Al Arabiya News, Jan.25, 2015


It has been four years since hundreds of thousands of Egyptian protesters gathered in the capital’s Tahrir Square in a popular uprising that ousted then-president Hosni Mubarak.

Like the majority of Egyptians living under Mubarak’s 30-decade rule, Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who account for estimated 10 percent of the country’s 85 million population, demanded change.
But as Egypt marks its fourth anniversary of the Jan.25 revolution, many within Egypt’s Christian minority say the country is now better off. In fact the situation for Egypt’s Christians is “better than what it was under the Muslim Brotherhood rule, Hosni Mubarak, and even their predecessors,” according to Charl Fouad El-Masri, editor-in-chief of Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm.
While the Mubarak state promoted itself as one of coexistence, the regime cracked down on building new churches and Christian worship sites. Christians were seldom assigned to leading positions in the government and especially in the military, in what many critics described as an official discrimination by the state. And like Muslim Egyptians, a significant number of Christians lived under poverty line and worried about unemployment and lack of freedoms.
But with the rise of religious extremism in the Arab world in the 1970s and with the emergence of terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda calling Arab Christians “legitimate targets,” the Christian minority found itself a target of violent sectarian attacks and a victim of an indifferent state. The 2011 revolution coincided with the deadliest year of sectarian violence in decades, including the bombing of an Alexandria church and the killing of two dozen Coptic protesters by Egyptian security forces.
Following the fall of the Mubarak regime and the beginnings of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi’s rule, however, security became a pressing priority in Christians’ demands. Attacks on Copts, who make 95 percent of Egypt’s Christian population, and their institutions have been widely reported on by the national and international media.
The emergence of ultra-conservative groups in post-revolution Egypt brought about a new wave of sectarian clashes that the government, according to critics, did not pay attention to. In 2013, a video emerged online showing Egyptian police standing idly by as a mob attacked a cathedral during a mass funeral.
“Egypt’s Copts suffered during the Muslim Brotherhood rule greatly,” El-Masri added.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won the majority of seats in the 2011 parliamentary election; and its member Mursi became Egypt’s fifth president in June 2012.
Mursi’s decree, which granted him unlimited powers, reports about violent crackdowns on journalists, liberals and demonstrators were among many issues that brought thousands of Egyptians back out on the streets calling for the president’s resignation. On June 30, 2013, and in response to the new wave of clashes that paralyzed Egypt, the Egyptian army, led by General Abdelfattah al-Sisi, ousted Mursi.
Since then, the Muslim Brotherhood was pronounced a “terrorist organization,” and its members became targets of a violent state crackdown, resulting in hundreds of deaths among Mursi supporters. Sisi became Egypt’s president on June 8, 2014.
“The outcome of the January 25 uprising was a disaster for Egyptian Christians who participated in the uprising as citizens of Egypt demanding democracy and liberty,” said Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, the founder and president of Voice of the Copts.
“When the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group achieved power, it became a nightmare not only for Christians but for anyone opposed to them,” Ramelah added.
Under Mursi, Egypt’s Christians were “unwanted, targeted, and about to face the same terror Iraqi and Syrian Christians face under Islamist terrorism there.”
“I feel Egypt would have gone in that exact direction if the Egyptian army had overlooked the people’s demands to overthrow Mursi,” Ramelah added.
Recently, Sisi has promised to rebuild damaged churches in the country.
Also see:

Egypt’s Morsi gone, military brings hope not coup

An Egyptian man carries a portrait of Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi AFP

An Egyptian man carries a portrait of Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi AFP

Voice of the Copts, by Dr. Ashraf Ramelah:

As the country rejoices, Egyptians fear jihad will turn into civil war. The military removed and jailed President Morsi on the demands of the people, and now Morsi’s angry remnant – defenders of the dishonored, ousted Muslim Brotherhood — roam the streets in bloodthirsty revenge. Instigated by President Morsi’s June 26th and 28th speeches, the Muslim Brotherhood and their sympathizers terrorize Egyptian neighborhoods. All who are happy to have Morsi gone – ordinary citizens and Egyptian military — becomes their enemy.
Where does the United States stand on this battleground?
Now, after Morsi, Egypt’s military plays the role of transitional authority and guardian without taking power. The army has not seized power from the government or sought violence. The military has not grabbed positions, control, or command as a consequence of the people’s rebellion. Instead, it continues to support Egypt’s revolutionary democratic movement and keep law and order after removing the President. The army is facilitating the appropriate legal course and changeover in the government according to guidelines provided in Egypt’s previous constitution — correctly “freezing” Morsi’s Sharia law constitution rejected by the majority.
Egypt’s military performed dutifully toward its countrymen resolving the June 30th issue with perfect timing as it rejected the bait of “dialogue.” This resulted in a miraculous turnover for Egypt. Unlike SCAF’s dirty compromises after the overthrow of Mubarak, this army is supervising the transference of power from Morsi’s regime to the president of the High Constitutional Court, Adly Monsour, who is now the interim President of Egypt. In siding responsibly with freedom fighters Egypt’s army has forgone political empowerment.
This is the stunning part; the part that the media around the world seems to be missing.
Claiming Egypt’s military action as a military coup is dangerous for this plays into the hands of the radical views of a vindictive and deceptive Muslim Brotherhood now threatening warfare on Egypt. It is as wrong as the “Arab Spring” label before it. Some in the media even suggest that the July 3rd removal of the terror-backed, Shariah law advocate overreaching his executive powers to build a parallel Saudi-like brown squad and much worse, defies democratic principles. Even if this were true, Egypt must first clean house of democracy’s enemies in order to begin its democratic process. Innocent Egyptians are at risk if, based upon such views, the U.S. halts aid (the $1.3 billion commitment) to an Egyptian military aligned with freedom-fighters.
Why did the army act as a trustworthy steward of the people’s non-violent Tamarud (Rebel) movement, intervening and demanding Morsi comply with their petition request? It is difficult to say. There is no indication that the military, which just played the role of mediator and protector of the people, will turn the tables in a power grab nor is there evidence to the contrary. More importantly, the army remains unified against the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s sequel depends on one figure, Commander-in-chief Abdel Fattah El Sisi.
While in office, Commander-in-chief Morsi moved around army officers like chess pieces securing in part loyalty to his regime in many areas as in the replacement of Mohammad Tantawi, head commander of Egyptian Armed Forces, with Abdel Fattah El Sisi on 12 August 2012. Given more time to complete his gradual plan, Morsi was to make a total overturn of military leadership to Muslim Brotherhood loyalists, including El Sisi, who was former head of military intelligence under Mubarak. Now it is El Sisi who put the army at odds with Morsi. He responded to the country’s unrest as the Tamarud petition grew with millions of signatures, making multiple requests for all political interests in Egypt to come together for talks – including freedom-fighters, Muslim Brotherhood, and Morsi. Morsi refused and no talks occurred.
Referring to the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi regime, El Sisi made known his loyalties before June 30th protests when he said, “When we see that Egyptians are under threat and we are not able to defend them, it is better we die.” Finally, on behalf of Egyptians, El Sisi delivered a 48-hour notice to Morsi to leave office, which Morsi rejected. After handcuffing the President on July 3rd, the army naturally began to arrest and jail Brotherhood figures and to dismantle their power structure out of fear that certain leaders would instigate violence. This included the arrest of Khairat el-Shaiter, Vice Morshed (vice-spiritual guide) of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was declared ineligible for a 2012 presidential bid because he escaped a seven year prison sentence for money laundering to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Confiscating classified documents from el-Shaiter’s villa residence upon his arrest, the military received information damaging to America’s pro-democracy position. The army claims these files show the U.S. gave more than $8 billion to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood upon el-Shaiter’s White House visit in April of 2012. Now the central focus of the Egyptian army in its battle against the Muslim Brotherhood is on the U.S. administration.
Upon Morsi’s removal, the U.S. ran to Morsi’s defense by threatening the Egyptian army with cutting off U.S. aid. Unfazed, an army spokesman responded with a statement pertaining to the army’s plans to publicly unveil the contents of the incriminating documents. The Egyptian military intends to embarrass the U.S. using Egyptian TV and the international media to air court hearings concerning these documents which link U.S. interests to the rise and support of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Other hidden documents discovered by the army in Brotherhood Al Fayyum offices reveal that Morsi received fewer votes in the 2012 Presidential election than his opponent, Shafiq. Suspicion of U.S. involvement in this matter runs high among Egyptians. It has from the day Morsi was announced President. Back then the U.S. administration was silent on the issue of Egypt’s election fraud.
The U.S. also overlooked the mysterious delay in the announcement of Morsi’s win (some say America was behind it) and, without comment, accepted a reversal of opinion from the electoral judge on the issue of unopened voting polls in Coptic neighborhoods where the judge pointedly condemned it and then suddenly dismissed it as irrelevant. How is it that these items were excluded from the efforts of the Obama administration to “broaden engagement” in the Egyptian post-revolutionary scene.
The tacit U.S. of recent past is now vocal. The Obama administration asserts its influence by requesting Morsi’s return. Before June 30th, U.S. concerns tried to suppress pro-democracy freedom forces particularly through private meetings initiated by the U.S. ambassador. The U.S. now questions Egyptian protocol regarding its military. We should be doubly outraged toward America and German-led Europe in calling for the reinstatement of Morsi to lead Egyptians — who neither voted in fair elections to have him nor want him after a one-year term of anti-democratic maneuvers – for that calling of a reversal of freedom’s magnanimous feat demonstrates America’s allegiance to the lies of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Thankfully, the army looks to avoid bloodshed by keeping Morsi under house arrest protected from a disenchanted Muslim Brotherhood ready to assassinate him and spark mayhem – legitimizing violence to hold on to power. So far, the military’s power is the power of the people. We do not see a military coup in Egypt, but an Egyptian army honoring the sea of waving red cards stating “get out” – the only “weapon” wielded by freedom protesters to rid a deplorable ruler. In a soccer match, a referee pushes the red card into the face of a foul player in the field to signal him unacceptable and too dangerous to remain in the game. Now Mohammad Morsi is out of the game. He must stay that way for good.

MEMRI – Egypt Defense Minister General Al-Sisi on Morsi’s Ouster: The People Felt Terrified and Imprisoned

Egyptians strive to end Morsi era: Muslim Brotherhood frantic to save the Caliph

a mural of Egypts President Mohamed Mursi on the wall of the presidential palace in Cairo Reuters

a mural of Egypts President Mohamed Mursi on the wall of the presidential palace in Cairo Reuters

by Dr. Ashraf Ramelah:

Inside Egypt a tempest is brewing for Morsi’s resignation on his one-year anniversary (June 30) 
Egyptians are united once again by the single yearning to rid the country of its corrupting force, Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and, unlike two years ago, actualize the dream of democracy. There is a sense that something very significant is about to happen with both fear and hope intermingled. Revolutionaries, vigilant since January 2011, are today boosted by a motivated Egyptian populace of young, old, urban, rural, religious, atheist, rich, and poor in a fevered pitch toward removing Morsi from office.
A zeal for human rights will lead them to seize this moment and risk everything in order to achieve liberty for Egypt beginning on the one-year anniversary of President Morsi’s term next Sunday, June 30th. In anticipation, the Arabic press is filled with frightening predictions. Islamic groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) are restless, ready to defend their President and willing to incite bloodshed. Islamists threaten the peaceful Tamarud (rebellion) campaign aimed at Morsi’s resignation and point to a ready MB militia.
Once Morsi would step down, the Tamarud hopefuls (15 million petition signers) believe that the high constitutional courts alone will become the interim body to hold and cherish the promise of democracy for Egyptians in handling the nations operations (unlike SCAF upon Mubarak’s fall).
Tamarud campaign cites the 1971 Egyptian constitution mandating that an interim court selects a constitutional assembly committee. It will draft a democratic Egyptian constitution replacing the voided Morsi constitution followed by Parliamentary elections and then the Presidential, in that order.
Tamarud (rebellion) campaign with more than 25 chapters around the country
Without political or religious pressure of any sort, without cans of oil or packages of rice as bribes, a petition has been circulating among the public for the past two months by Tamarud chapter leaders and activists which has already received more signatures than Morsi received in votes (13 million) gained by massive fraud. With the use of this simple democratic tool initiating demands by “the people” along with a plan to gather and present it, the Tamarud stands in contrast to Islamist factions using the threat of violence as a scare tactic.
As the Tamarud exerts non-violent pressure on the existing power structure leading up to the day of reckoning, Egyptian state police circulate their intentions to remain absent from the staged protests (a decision not too late to reverse) in favor of guarding police offices, leaving protesters vulnerable to MB militia forces. Think Syria and Libya today.
Egyptian sentiment highly suspicious of America’s role toward the MB
Ordinary Egyptians, resentful of America’s interference in Egypt all along, “thank” the American administration for the anti-democratic MB-backed Morsi administration and cite America’s financial, military, and political support of the MB in its climb to power. Egyptians blame America for the “Arab Spring” media campaign as an invention to facilitate MB rise to power in Egypt as well as across the Middle East. They see this moment as no exception.
Read more at Voice of the Copts

Israel Today interviews Ashraf Ramelah of Voice of the Copts




Ryan Jones of Israel Today interviews Ashraf Ramelah of Voice of the Copts – March 2013


1. Egypt is heating up again. Do you think there will be another revolution, this time against the Muslim Brotherhood?

I can’t call what has been going on in Egypt for two years a revolution, but I can call such an event an uprising. An uprising consists of multiple, massive protests against the existing system, while revolution is to overthrow that system. In Egypt, the system has always been as it is now, Islamic supremacy dominated by an Islamic mentality. In Egypt, the uprising so far has resulted in a power shift within the existing system, such as Mubarak leaving and Morsi taking his place.

For two years now the Egyptian people have been bravely protesting in the streets and squares around the country but, unfortunately, have not yet succeeded in a revolution. Will they succeed in revolution and overturn Islamic supremacy, the existing system since Nasser’s coup of 1952, and begin a democracy? This remains to be seen.

Egypt’s youth went out to protest in the streets on January 25, 2011 and these sustained protests grew into a prolonged uprising. The Muslim Brotherhood attached itself to this uprising to usurp power from Mubarak. Now with the help of foreign power and currency, the Muslim Brotherhood will overwhelm the uprising once again as they did in the earliest stage of the uprising with their balancing act of propagandizing the West and using their militia force. It does not look good for the future of Egypt.

2. What is life like for Egyptian Christians under the Muslim Brotherhood?

The plight of the Egyptian Christians today entails Christian women living in fear of attacks by Muslim gangs because they do not wear the veil. As before, Christians are subject to open discrimination by Muslim Koran-adherents who frequently commit acts of destruction of Christian property and routinely threaten and take the lives of Copts. Muslim mobs randomly bomb church buildings, set them on fire or use bulldozers and hatchets to demolish them   — this violence now accelerated under Morsi. Worshippers coming and going from church are at high risk of never returning home, a familiar scenario for Copts.

In this new political climate, the Muslim nemesis has been emboldened. Muslim vigilantes have now revived (unofficially) the anti-Copt Hamayouni Decree of 1856. Accordingly, Muslims actively forbid Christian burials in Christian cemeteries where Muslim cemeteries are nearby — believing that the corpse of a Christian should never be interred within proximity of a buried Muslim. Is this perhaps the ultimate act of bigotry?

3. Does Egypt’s new constitution discriminate against or make life difficult/dangerous for Christians?

Egypt’s new constitution is consistent with and generally supports the discriminatory behavior described in my answer to the previous question and will ultimately endanger the lives of all Egyptians. For the Brotherhood, any approved Egyptian constitution is a façade for the benefit of the West. A constitution’s sole value is to impose religious Sharia law through drafted articles which are absent of religious freedom and universal human rights. This in turn will degrade the country’s economy as it discourages tourism and Western investments.

4. How do Egypt’s Coptic Christians view Israel?

Islamic bigotry and prejudice against Jews in Egypt predates the Jewish State of Israel. Islam’s discriminatory teachings have dominated Egypt’s culture for centuries and have been passed down through generations, infecting Muslims and Christians alike. Public school textbooks saturate Muslim and non-Muslim children in their formative years with messages of hate toward Israel and Jews. Today Christian Copts are awash in the culture of Islam like fish in water and many grossly err in relation to Christ’s teachings on the issue of Jews and Coptic biblical history and heritage.
Read more: Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization drawing attention to the suffering of Coptic Christians in Egypt and educating as to the chilling effect of Sharia (Islamic law).

Coptic Activist: U.S. Needs to Stand for Freedom in Egypt

Ashraf Ramelah

Ashraf Ramelah

IPT News:

News reports from Egypt focus on protests against the new Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government and other national political developments. But each week brings a new set of attacks on the country’s Christian minority, attacks that often are overlooked by western media

Just this week, Muslims tried to block expansion of a Coptic church. And priests from another church reportedly were threatened with death if they didn’t convert to Islam. The previous week, a Coptic church was set on fire after a neighbor complained about noise during prayer services.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism spoke with Ashraf Ramelah about the challenges facing Egypt’s Coptic Christian population, which is estimated at about 10 percent of the country’s 85 million people.

Ramelah, an Egyptian native, founded Voice of the Copts in 2007 to raise awareness of persecution against Christians and fight for “freedom of religion, cultural identity and women’s rights.”

Go to IPT to view the video of the interview


Egyptians:BOYCOTT Egypt’s December 15 Constitution Referendum

a_mural_of_Egypts_President_Mohamed_Mursi_on_the_wall_of_the_presidential_palace_in_Cairo_ReutersA mural of Egypts President Mohamed Mursi on the wall of the presidential palace in Cairo Reuters


Voice of the Copts:

Call to all Egyptians:

Egypt’s December 15 Constitution Referendum
Call to the International Community:
Egypt’s new regime
Voice of the Copts appeals to all Egyptian freedom fighters fearlessly and heroically standing up against the Morsi regime: 
We support you as you continue to stand up and exercise enormous courage once again as when recently you opposed the dictatorial constitutional amendment of November 22 made by Mr. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party. Your bold action obligated Mr. Morsi to withdraw the power grab he executed in defiance of democratic principles. Now he has backed down and responded to your demands thanks to your brave persistence
All Egyptians must now likewise oppose Mr. Morsi’s new constitution draft by boycotting the December 15 referendum. The new draft promotes anti-democratic Islamic principles of intolerance. With a boycott, Egyptians can avoid another corrupt election and reject the avenue paved by Mr. Morsi toward Islamic Shariah law.
A select group chosen from the Muslim Brotherhood membership seeking Islamic supremacy has written Egypt’s new draft constitution with the future goal of creating an Islamic Umma. Expunge this draft now!
Voice of the Copts appeals to the international community:
Voice of the Copts appeals to leaders of the free world and human rights activists to stand with Egyptian freedom fighters and against any attempt by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to build a center of Islamic power and jihadist terrorism.
We demand that world leaders withdraw their recognition of Egypt’s phony “pro-democracy” leader, Mr. Morsi, who is backed by the illegal Muslim Brotherhood party. Freeze your political relationships with Egypt, halt all investments and aid to Egypt and force Mr. Morsi’s regime to step down. This will facilitate legitimate democratic goals yet to be achieved by Egypt’s freedom fighters.
Dr. Ashraf Ramelah
Founder and President
Voice of the Copts Coop.

Egyptian President Morsi: A Fugitive Addresses World Leaders


Historically, the Egyptian prison cell has been the incubator for monumental  accomplishments, such as the formation of Al Qaeda and the current  presidency of Egypt. It has provided the necessary network, doctrine and  framework to spawn greater goals. Perfect plans have been hatched and prepared  in Egypt’s prison block, allowing bad actors like Muhammad Morsi to plot their  next move. Within a few days of Hosni Mubarak’s confinement of Morsi to the Two  Sahrawi branch of the Wadi el Natruon Penitentiary during Egypt’s January 2011  uprising, Morsi broke out. He was a pawn in the execution of the Muslim  Brotherhood’s long awaited scheme to take over Egypt.

Morsi was under arrest for suspicion of treason and not yet officially a  sentenced criminal at the time of his escape. He might never have received a  trial. Hard core Islamists like Morsi have always been thrown behind bars by  Egypt’s dictators in order to prevent successful insurrections and the rise of  full-blown Sharia.

So on January 29, shortly into the revolutionary crisis and on the fourth day  of telecommunication darkness throughout Egypt (a complete shut down of phones  and internet), the doors of prisons around the country (including the Two  Sahrawi Penitentiary) flung open and prisoners fled to the streets. No sooner  had Morsi emerged from his vault when a satellite phone landed in his hands for  an interview already set up with Al Jazeera. It has been widely speculated  throughout the Arabic press that Hamas terror cells provided this capability and  linked him to the airwaves.

While the overthrow of Mubarak’s reign was underway, it was rumored that  Mubarak himself had set Morsi free along with Muslim Brotherhood leaders and the  whole of Egypt’s criminal lot in order to sic them on protestors in the streets.  But it is now widely believed that Mubarak never ordered open the prison doors,  at least not at the Two Sahrawi. According to many Egyptian sources in the  Arabic press (see journalist Tawfik Okasha YouTube video investigation in  June 2012 at Al- Phareen in Egypt), Mubarak considered Morsi a realistic  threat to his government.

Intelligence coming from the Egyptian Secret Service indicated to Mubarak’s  regime that Morsi was a spy cooperating with the CIA to overtake the uprising of  January 25. Supposedly, Mubarak was informed that the Muslim Brotherhood  received the sum of two billion dollars via Qatar. Where Mubarak never really  feared fredom fighting youths, the Muslim Brotherhood was a formidable  force.

Three months later at the end of April, Morsi became president of the newly  formed political party of the banned Muslim Brotherhood called Freedom and  Justice which would catapult him to the top position in the country in just  another fourteen months. Throughout the pre-election season of 2012, Morsi had  always been known as the “stebn,” the Arabic term for the proverbial spare tire.  This meant he waited on the sidelines as an alternative candidate of the Freedom  and Justice Party in Egypt’s presidential bid second to the favored Keraat El  Shater. It was anticipated El Shater would be blocked by the election commission  and become an illegal selection.

Then began the campaign of deception where the Muslim Brotherhood appeared to  the outside world (i.e. the American administration) to be moderates and  democracy lovers and attempted to convince freedom fighters inside Egypt who  shed blood for this debacle that their views were considered and respected and  their goals were one and the same with the Muslim Brotherhood. Of course at this  time, Morsi emphasized how he would respect all international treaties including  the 1979 peace agreement with Israel. The “ballot gazwa,” referred to as a  “democratic election” by Morsi and the West, brought Morsi to power after his  party members delivered groceries and cash to buy votes. As the world knows by  now Morsi represents the worst possible outcome for Copts, all freedom-loving  Egyptians, the Middle East and the West.

Read more: Family Security Matters  Contributing Editor Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of  the Copts, a human rights organization drawing attention to the  suffering of Coptic Christians in Egypt and educating as to the chilling effect  of Sharia (Islamic law).