Fox News reports:
Seventeen members of Congress are pressing the State Department to act on the “grim reality” faced by Coptic Christian women in Egypt, who frequently are coerced into violent forced marriages that leave them victim to rape and captive slavery.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote on April 16 to Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, who heads up American efforts to thwart human trafficking around the globe.
In their letter, they exhort the State Department to confront the “criminal phenomenon” of forced marriage they say is on the rise in Egypt, where the 7 million Coptic Christians often face criminal prosecution and civic violence for their rejection of Islam.
“I think it is about as bad as it can be” for Copts and other religious minorities in Egypt, said Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who penned the letter. “It is very tough to be a Coptic Christian. … Keep in mind that we have given Egypt about $53 billion since Camp David” — the 1978 peace accords between Israel and Egypt that were arranged by the U.S. government — “so we’re actually funding them,” Wolf said.
We’ve come to expect very little from the Obami on human rights, and absolutely nothing when it comes to the protection of religious freedom. One suspects that slothful difference is at work here, as the Fox report explains:
The State Department’s 2009 report on trafficking singled out Egypt for its Level II Watchlist, noting that the government made only “minimal efforts to prevent trafficking in persons” last year.
But while it notes the plight of Sudanese women and others in bondage in Egypt, it does not mention Copts once — nor does the report mention Christians anywhere in its 324 pages.
A State Department spokesman said that violations of religious rights are covered in the annual reports of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. But the most recent report from the commission made no mention of forced marriages or forced conversions targeting Copts in Egypt.
Wolf is not optimistic that the Obami will leap into action. (“‘I expect the State Department to do nothing,’ he said, ‘because that’s the way the State Department has been responding.’”) Indeed, the Obama administration has been nothing if not consistent in its disdain for human rights and unwillingness to rattle the despotic regimes of the “Muslim World.” It remains unclear how it is that we’re going to win the hearts and minds of the people in those countries and wean them from the temptation of Islamic fundamentalism when we are so reticent in the defense of our own values.