Bahai News - Commission Asks President Bush to Raise Religious-Freedom Issues
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2001
Contact: Lawrence J. Goodrich, Communications Director,
(202) 523-3240, ext. 27
Commission Asks President Bush to Raise Religious-Freedom Issues
With Egyptian President Mubarak
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has written to
President Bush to ask him to raise religious-freedom issues with President
Hosni Mubarak of Egypt during the latter's state visit to the United States
April 2. The request follows the return of a Commission delegation from a
visit to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel and the Occupied Territories during
the last two weeks of March. The letter was signed by Commission Chairman
Elliott Abrams, Vice Chairman Firuz Kazemzadeh, and Commissioner Laila
Al-Marayati; the full text follows:
March 28, 2001
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States of
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As a delegation of members of the United States Commission on
International Religious Freedom, we have just completed a fact-finding trip
to Egypt. We are writing respectfully to urge you to raise the issue of
religious freedom prominently in your upcoming meeting with President Mubarak.
Among the problems raised with us by members of religious groups are
With respect to the Christian community, government permission must still
be sought to build or repair a church. Christians are rarely promoted to high
levels in the government or military and are frequently discriminated against
by private employers in hiring and promotion. Their taxes help pay the
salaries of all Muslim, but no Christian, clergy.
Baha'is have been arrested and imprisoned because of their religious
beliefs, speciously charged with insulting Islam.
Muslims whom the government arbitrarily deems to be extremist in viewpoint
have been fired as school teachers; and all imams (prayer leaders) are hired,
monitored, and can be fired at will solely by the government.
Police brutality and torture of detainees continues against certain
groups, exacerbating sectarian violence and tension by punishing one group
more severely than another.
Islamists are tried in military rather than civil court, which allows the
government to extend their sentences indefinitely without due process.
In fairness we note as well that we were told of some improvements in
religious freedom. History textbooks for public school children of all
levels have been revised this year to include for the first time discussion
of the Coptic Christian period.
The government has in recent years granted permission for construction of
new churches and repair of older ones far more frequently than was previously
the case. And public television is beginning to be more inclusive of
The Commission may issue findings and policy recommendations to you,
Secretary Powell, and the U.S. Congress after our delegation returns from
the Middle East and reports to the rest of the nine commissioners. But we
respectfully urge you to express the concern of the United States that
progress on religious freedom for all Egyptians accelerate.
Dr. Firuz Kazemzadeh
Dr. Laila Al-Marayati
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to give
independent recommendations to the executive branch and the Congress.
Hon. Elliott Abrams,
Chairman * Dr. Firuz Kazernzadeh, Vice Chairman
* Rabbi David Saperstein * Laila Al-Marayati,
M.D. * Hon. John R. Bolton * Dean Michael K.
Young * Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick * Nina
Shea * Justice Charles Z. Smith * Ambassador
Robert Seiple, Ex-Officio * Steven T. McFarland,
800 NORTH CAPITOL STREET, NW, SUITE 790 | WASHINGTON, DC 20002 |
202-523-3240 | 202-523-5020 (FAX)
©Copyright 2001, The U.S. Commission on International Religious
Page last updated/revised 040401
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