April 10, 2013 – New York – An AJC Board delegation, meeting with senior government officials in Cairo, expressed deep concerns about the safety of minorities, especially the Coptic community, in Egypt. The latest assault, at the St. Marks Coptic Cathedral in Cairo over the weekend, comes after repeated fatal attacks on Christian sites across Egypt during the past two years.
"Attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, and incitement by extremist Islamist clerics and political figures, are not a new phenomenon in Egypt, but the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the breakdown of legal restraints in recent months have heightened the peril facing Egyptian Copts,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC director of government and international affairs, who accompanied the delegation. “The key question today is what is the intention and ability of the current government to protect any vulnerable segment of Egyptian society."
In a series of meetings with senior government officials -- in particular, with the National Council for Human Rights and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – the AJC leaders urged significantly increased protection of the Coptic Christian minority.
The AJC delegation also called for aggressive government measures to increase the safety of women in public spaces, noting the rise of harassment and violence that has accompanied a general erosion of civil order amidst the Egyptian political transition.
AJC leaders discussed with a range of political activists, policy analysts, business executives, and civil society leaders, including members of the Coptic Christian community, the current political and strategic situation in Egypt two years after the revolution that brought down President Hosni Mubarak.
The group also urged senior government officials to resume normal political contact with Israel. The delegation lauded critical cooperation between Egyptian and Israeli security forces, including steps by Egypt to staunch tunnel traffic between Sinai and Hamas-ruled Gaza. But AJC noted the absence of high-level political and diplomatic contact and called for the return of Egypt's ambassador to Israel.