March 13, 2018 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1378

Deep Divide Between Copts In Egypt And In U.S. Over Introduction Of Bill In U.S. Congress 'Expressing Concern Over Attacks On Coptic Christians In Egypt'

March 13, 2018 | By C. Meital*
Egypt | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1378


The December 21, 2017 introduction, in the U.S. House of Representatives, of a bill calling on the government of Egypt to enact reforms ensuring that Egypt's Coptic Christians have "the same rights and opportunities as all other Egyptian citizens" and that it "end the culture of impunity for attacks on Christians"[1] has prompted deep disagreement between Egyptian Copts residing in the U.S. and Egypt's political Christian establishments. The bill, H.Res.673 – Expressing concern over attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt is strongly supported by the U.S.-based Coptic Solidarity organization.[2] It was introduced by Rep. James French Hill (R-AR), For Himself, For Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), And Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY).

H.Res.673 presents the history of the Coptic minority in Egypt, notes that "approximately 15 percent of Copts have emigrated from Egypt over the past few decades to escape discrimination," lists actions by Egyptian President Al-Sisi to benefit Copts but notes that Egypt's church construction law passed in August 2016 "has not lifted significant burdens on the ability to build a church,"[3] and notes the "severe discrimination in both public and private employment" in Egypt and the persecution and violence against Copts by both Egyptian citizens and the Islamic State (ISIS). It states that the "United States diplomatic leadership contributes meaningfully and materially to the international protection of religious minorities and their faith-based practices and places of worship," and emphasizes that "religious freedom and human rights are an essential cornerstone of democracy." Acknowledging "the central and historic importance of the United States-Egypt partnership in advancing the common interests of both countries," it expresses appreciation for "Egypt's regional role as a partner in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism," and "urges the Government of Egypt to enact serious and legitimate reforms to ensure Coptic Christians are given the same rights and opportunities as all other Egyptian citizens," recognizes "the necessity for Egypt’s leaders to take steps toward education reform that prioritizes impartial instruction of all religions, and political reform that prioritizes human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law," and to "take additional steps to end the culture of impunity for attacks on Christians and to continue to undertake the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of individuals who carry out attacks on Copts and other Christians in Egypt." [4]

In response to the introduction of the bill, Coptic Solidarity, the influential organization of Egyptian Copts in the U.S., published on its website its detailed explanation of the bill, and added: "Coptic Solidarity urges Members of Congress to cosponsor and rapidly pass H. RES 673 providing much needed moral support to an increasingly marginalized Coptic population in Egypt, and providing accountability to the el-Sisi administration for its mistreatment of the Coptic minority."[5] 

On his Facebook page, Coptic Solidarity member and activist Magdi Khalil explained the essence of the bill and wrote: "Today, Friday, December 22, 2017, while the rabble attacked the Coptic church in Giza, outside Cairo,[6] Congress discussed a new bill supporting the Copts in Egypt. For years, Coptic Solidarity has been working with American lawmakers to shed light on the suffering of the Copts and to call for support for them. In the past year, the organization managed to introduce [sic] a series of bills in Congress, for the first time in the history of the Coptic issue, among them the bill [introduced] today... The bill [presents] the massacres of the Copts in Egypt and describes their status as second-class citizens. The bill calls on the Egyptian government to instate equality between Muslims and Copts in Egypt in all aspects [of life], and sheds light also on the failed Church Construction Law in Egypt that has made the situation worse."[7]

H.Res.673 has been harshly criticized in Egypt, by Copts – including by Orthodox Church institutions, activists, and ordinary citizens – and by lawmakers and media in Egypt, both Copts and Muslims, who have argued that the U.S. Congress's tackling of this matter constitutes gross interference in Egypt's internal affairs and that the problem of the Copts must be solved by Egypt alone.

Egyptian writers, both Copts and Muslims, also weighed in, expressing their resentment at the "betrayal of the homeland" by the Copts in the U.S. by encouraging Congress to step in on matters that do not concern it. They praised the Church's opposition to the bill, but at the same time criticized the Egyptian Foreign Ministry for failing to oppose the bill. Another argument widely voiced was that the bill is a response to Egypt's actions against the U.S. at the U.N, following U.S. President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.[8]

Illustration from, December 29, 2017

This report will review the main points of the divide between Copts in the U.S. and Copts and Muslims in Egypt over H.Res. 673.

Copts In Egypt Oppose H.Res.673: We Want Aid Only From Our Muslim Brothers In Egypt; The Bill Is A Response To Egypt's Move In The UN Against Trump's Jerusalem Announcement

The Coptic establishment in Egypt expressed its opposition to H.Res.673, and to what it termed the interference of foreign elements in Coptic affairs. On December 27, 2017, Egyptian Orthodox Church  Patriarch Tawadros II, during a meeting with Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, at which the latter extended his good wishes for the upcoming Orthodox Christmas, refuted accusations that the Copts in Egypt were being aided by foreign elements: "We are aided only by God and by our Muslim brothers on the soil of the homeland."[9]

Also on December 27, Egyptian priest and Coptic Orthodox Church spokesman Boulos Halim told the Egyptian Al-Dustour daily: "History is a witness to the fact that the Church has been patriotic throughout its history... and that it is aided solely by God and by the homeland." He also emphasized: "The Church opposes discussion of its affairs by any element outside Egypt."[10]

Salib Mata Sawiris , member of the Coptic Church's General Congregation Council, told the Egyptian TV channel DMC in a December 27 interview that he opposed the discussion in the U.S. Congress of any internal matter concerning the situation of the Copts in Egypt, adding: "The Christians in Egypt are under the protection of God and of their Muslim brothers in Egypt. The Muslims in Egypt are under the protection of God and of their Christian brothers, because we are a single bloc, for better and for worse."[11]  

Criticism of the bill also came from everyday Coptic citizens in Egypt, many of whom posted on their Facebook pages the message: "I, Egyptian citizen [name], announce on my own behalf and on behalf of my Christian family my opposition to the  false bill introduced in the U.S. Congress on the pretext of 'supporting the Egyptian Copts' and which was introduced by the Coptic Solidarity movement [sic] ... This move constitutes gross interference in Egypt's internal affairs and exploitation of events in Egypt that the U.S. is trying to leverage  politically, in order to spark division and uproar, after [the U.S.] lost its mind following Egypt's vehement response in the matter of Jerusalem... [This bill] clearly constitutes scheming against Egypt on the part of the American administration, in light of [Egypt's] clear position on U.S. policy...  and against Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." They also emphasized in their announcements the unity of Egypt and stated that the Copts in Egypt enjoyed equal rights and obligations and that the Egyptian leadership was handling their problems perfectly well.[12]

Egyptian Politicians: H.Res.673 Is A Response To Egypt's Moves Against Trump's Recognition Of Jerusalem As Israel's Capital

Criticism of the bill also came from Egyptian lawmakers, both Copts and Muslims, who argued that there are those who seek to damage the unity of the Egyptian people. This bill, they added, is an expected response to steps taken by Egypt in the UN against President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and is also a means of pressuring Egypt.

For example, on December 22, 2017, Free Egyptians Party chairman Essam Khalil, a Copt, said that his party was closely monitoring the new bill's progress and Congress's activity regarding it,[13] and added: "It appears that the reaction towards Egypt, which came out against the U.S. decision to move its embassy [in Israel] to Jerusalem, has come quickly. We expected [a reaction] and we are absolutely ready to fight it."[14]

Member of Parliament Sa'id Hasassin likewise connected the bill with Egyptian moves against the U.S.'s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital: "The American Congress has gone mad, like the American president Donald Trump, after Egypt succeeded in obtaining the UN's agreement to cancel Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist occupation authorities." He continued: "All the American politicians, particularly members of the American Congress, have become mentally ill, and are nearly untreatable."[15]

Coptic parliamentarian Margaret 'Azer also discussed the issue. In a December 26 interview with Egyptian TV, she said: "The law for protecting Copts introduced by American representatives in Congress is blatant interference in Egypt's affairs... The Copts are Egyptian [citizens] and have the same rights and obligations [as the Egyptian Muslims do]." She added that the Copts' problems are undeniable, and stem from [Islamic] religious streams that put wrong ideas into the heads of simple folk, and that now Egypt is working on rectifying the problems and President Al-Sisi always stresses that the state belongs to everyone." About the recent attacks in Egypt, she said that they were aimed at both Muslims and Christians.[16]

On December 27, the Egyptian parliament's Foreign Relations Committee and National Security Committee met to discuss the bill. Foreign Relations Committee chairman Tareq Radwan spoke out against foreign intervention in solving the problems of the Copts in Egypt, saying that it was an internal Egyptian matter. National Security Committee chairman Kamal 'Amar said: "There are hostile forces that seek to weaken Egypt and impact its stability... No one has managed to overcome the national unity of the Egyptians, from within or without, throughout history." He added that some want to use this issue of the Copts to pressure Egypt, and underlined Egypt's strategic relations with the U.S. and the interests shared by the two countries in a wide range of areas. Also at the meeting, it was proposed that the U.S. representatives who had introduced the bill be invited to talk with Egyptian MPs in order to hear the positions of all sides.[17]

It should be noted that following the December 29, 2017 attack on Mar Mina Church in Helwan district, in which nine Egyptian civilians were killed, a number of MPs said that the U.S. was responsible for every attack on Copts because of the bill. MP Ayman Abu Al-'Ala said that there were many question marks about the bill... and wondered if it was being used as a pretext by terror organizations to carry out the recent attacks on churches in Egypt.[18]  

Foreign Relations Committee secretary MP Tareq Al-Khouli said that the committee was drawing up a response to Congress criticizing its failure to invite Egyptians to the hearing held on the issue, at which the problem of the Copts in Egypt was presented one-sidedly. He promised to clarify "the truth about the state's treatment of Copts in Egypt." He added that the parliament intended to send a delegation to Congress to clarify Egypt's position on the bill.[19] A memo sent to Congress by the Egyptian parliament in January 2018, titled "Egypt Is Not A Country That We Live In But A Country That Lives Within Us," set out the treatment of Copts in Egypt since the January 2011 revolution, the political achievements in legislation pertaining to the Copts, and details about how they were treated under the Muslim Brotherhood regime, that attempted, according to the parliament, to spark sectarian enmity in the country. The memo also detailed President Al-Sisi's commitment to the Copts, as expressed in his meetings with them and by his participation in their holidays and his approval of the law for building and reconstructing churches. It also stated that the Copts held senior public positions, noting as proof that 39 MPs were Copts.[20]

Egyptian Writers: The Copts In The U.S. Are Betraying Their Homeland

Egyptian writers, both Coptic and Muslim, attacked the Copts in America, and especially the U.S.-based Coptic Solidarity organization, for strongly supporting the bill, and argued that by doing so this organization was betraying the Egyptian homeland by encouraging Congress to interfere in matters not its own, and that the organization was leveraging the current U.S.-Egypt tension to do so.

Coptic MP 'Imad Gad: The Problems Of The Copts In Egypt Must Be Solved By The Egyptians Themselves – Not By The American Congress

Dr. 'Imad Gad, Coptic MP and columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Watan, stated in his December 24 column that the Copts in the U.S., first and foremost Magdi Khalil, were taking advantage of the rising U.S.-Egypt tension to play up the problems of the Copts in Egypt and make them appear worse than they really are. He wrote: "Egypt-U.S. relations are at a new stage of tension, after the stage of improvement [in relations] that was expected [following the election of President Trump] did not yield new American decisions that were any different from those that had continued [since the presidency of] Bush Jr... through the [presidency] of Barack Obama, who left office on January 20, 2017.  

"Hope prompted us in Egypt to expect that the American policy would change with the arrival of Republican President Donald Trump... but his moves after he took his seat in the White House were very different than what he had declared and said [before the election]. His tour of the region did not include Cairo. Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to recognize occupied Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel was a move that exposed the truth about future interactions in Egypt-U.S. relations. Accordingly, Egypt acted forcefully as a member of the UN Security Council, and proposed a resolution against the American decision, to which all the [UNSC] member states agreed but the U.S., which used its veto to prevent the passage of the resolution. Furthermore, when there was an appeal to the UN General Assembly [to oppose the U.S. move], the U.S. representative declared that the countries that would vote against U.S. wishes would receive no aid from it. Egypt, and with it 123 countries, voted for the resolution, while only nine countries voted with the U.S., among them the Marshall Islands, Trinidad, and Micronesia.

"There are signs of future tension in Egypt-U.S. relations, and this may explain the move by Coptic Solidarity, which is headed by Magdi Khalil [sic], vis-à-vis the [U.S.] Congress aimed at advancing a bill dealing with the situation of the Copts in Egypt and their problems, and with the issue of building churches. Here it should be noted that we have real problems in Egypt, and it is indeed difficult to build churches, and Copts are indeed kept out of public posts. These problems stem from social and cultural reasons, and from the way in which security institutions and apparatuses function. However, I fully believe that these are Egyptian problems that will be solved among the Egyptians themselves, and we absolutely oppose our problems in Egypt being discussed in the American Congress...

"My statements have not been well received by Mr. Magdi Khalil, who has in the past accused me, in a number of articles, of being an agent of the Egyptian security apparatuses, because he simply wants to internationalize the issue and considers himself a divine emissary for solving the problems of the Copts and ending their suffering... [Khalil] maintains that the Copts are persecuted in Egypt and that my opposition to his logic and to his modus operandi and my vehement opposition to any foreign intervention in the problems of my land... have caused him to accuse me of being an agent [of the Egyptian] security [apparatuses]... "[21]

Coptic Politician To U.S. Congressmen: The Copts In Egypt Are Not A Foreign Minority And Will Solve Their Problems On Their Own

In her January 15, 2018 column in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, Egyptian politician Dr. Layla Takla, who is a lecturer in law, criticized the House members who introduced the bill, saying that in their dealing with the Copts' affairs they are distorting facts and relying on sources that are not credible – and thus are not helping Copts in the U.S. She argued that while the Copts in Egypt have problems, they are not a "foreign minority" in Egypt and that Egypt is a country that respects the rights of the other. She wrote: 

"When some members of the American Congress published an inaccurate report on the Coptic institutions in Egypt [sic, apparently a reference to the bill], they were either not meeting their responsibilities towards the citizens they are supposed to defend, rather than harming them by publishing reports that reflect negatively on the U.S., or they were not examining the facts before publishing reports [based on] sources that are not credible...

"Egypt is a country whose modern foundations were completed even before most of the countries in the world today existed, and it respects these [countries'] sovereignty, as well as the rights of the other, and all religions. 

"Christianity entered Egypt from the beginning of its path... and after that came Islam, that some Egyptians believed in and adopted. All Egyptians [Christians and Muslims] are citizens who have lived together for centuries. [The Copts] are not a foreign minority, a separate group, or a community of foreign immigrants. This situation is apparently misunderstood by some, because it is different from [the situation] in the countries that emerged [based on] groups of immigrants from various countries that came seeking freedom or money [hinting disparagingly at the U.S.] ...

"Throughout its long history, Egypt has been subjected to many attacks, and overcame all of them, and today it is confronting a terror attack that harms all its citizens, who oppose it unanimously. The police and military defend all [Egyptian citizens] and furthermore they defend the region and the world against the crimes and evil of these many [terror] organizations, while your honorable council [i.e. Congress] has not dared to even publish a resolution designating these organizations as terrorist [a reference to Congress's failure to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization].[22]

"You [in the U.S.] declare that you are fighting terrorism and helping Egypt in its war against it, but the best path to defend Egypt... is not criticism and publication of reports, but seriousness and willingness to support those who are fighting terrorism, particularly in Egypt which has sacrificed lives, efforts, and funds to protect the world from the evil of terrorism and its crimes and to call to account the countries that support it...

"No one is denying that the Copts in Egypt, whom the organizations of evil are harming, are dealing with many problems and are acting to reduce or eliminate them, through ongoing contacts and coordination of efforts with the government and the office of the president. The Copts in Egypt who live within it know their problems better than anyone, and only they are capable of tackling them.

"What is incredible is that the Copts in Egypt... suffered from ostracism, humiliation, and violence during the theocracy [i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood regime headed by Mohamed Morsi]. Sixty churches were destroyed, but wonder of wonders, you [Americans] did not publish a report or criticism, and not a word was heard from you, not even a whisper of opposition – while today you attack the regime that is rebuilding [the churches and], erecting a splendid Coptic cathedral, [under] a president who sees [all Egyptians] as equal and loves them all.[23]

"The Copts in Egypt love their homeland, and most of them will not go along with attempts to create a schism or to incite them against the president and the regime...

"Most of the members [of Congress] who published the report never visited Egypt, and their sources are not accurate. One of these sources is a video by ISIS in Syria and Iraq threatening the Christians – we know what is in it, and we have suffered from it, and the criticism should have been directed against those who disseminated [the video], not against Egypt.

"The title of the report is inaccurate, and refers to the 'Coptic institutions' [sic] while in several places the Copts [themselves] constitute a target for worse crimes, including murder, denigration, and expulsion – these are crimes that all Egyptians oppose and against which the state has firmly come out... You [Americans] revealed that 15% of the Copts have emigrated from Egypt. We don’t know where you got this number, but we know that Egypt gives its citizens freedom of movement and travel, and that there are more Muslims who emigrated – some to seek work, and some because they are terrorists in search of another refuge in countries that support them, and we hope that [the U.S.] is not one of these...

"As a Christian who knows and respects her religion, I demand [that the Americans] adhere to the New Testament guidelines that explicitly state 'Do good to all' and 'The people of God is all the peoples of the world,' and to deal with protecting all Egyptians, not only the Christians, but also the police, military, judicial system, citizens, and children, and even the Islamic institutions.

"For your information, we in Egypt and in other [countries] call on you to save the holy places in Palestine from those who deny Jesus, harm Christianity and its symbols, and mock its directives. This report [of yours] does not harm Egypt as much as it harms those who published it, in your Congress and among your people. Good luck with your next decisions and reports."[24]

Coptic Journalist: The Church In Egypt Was The First To Oppose The Bill

Maged Habta, Coptic journalist and columnist for the Egyptian government daily Al-Dustour, likewise linked the bill to Egypt's moves in the UN against President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and also linked the terror attacks against the Copts in Egypt with the bill. He argued that the Egyptian Foreign Ministry had not done enough to oppose the bill, as the Church had. He wrote:

"It is certainly no coincidence that the slap, the slap of the century,[25] that Egypt landed [on the face of] the U.S. in the matter of Jerusalem came at the same time as the discussion in the American Congress on the bill calling on the Egyptian government to ensure equality between Muslims and Copts in Egypt, claiming that [the rights] of Egypt's [Coptic] citizens were being violated and that they are treated like second-class citizens because of their religion. It is also no coincidence that the same day, the rabble and criminals were utilized to carry out crimes such as the ones at [the church in] the village of Al-Waslin [in Giza]..."[26]

In another column on the subject, Habta wrote: "Our Church opposes all the methods that are still being cooked up in Uncle Sam's Congress to internationalize the problems of the Copts. This [kind of scheming] is an approach from which [the Coptic Church] has refrained, even during lengthy occupations, for centuries, throughout which [Copts and Muslims] lived [together] and participated enthusiastically in creating the culture of the glorious homeland to which they belong. [This] is because [the Copts] demand nothing but actualizing the rules of justice that are in the law, assuring full civil rights [to all] and nondiscrimination according to the principles of the constitution."[27]

Egyptian Columnist: The Copts In U.S. Sold Out Egypt For Money

As stated, criticism of the bill and of the U.S.-based Copts who are promoting it was also voiced by Muslim writers in Egypt. Hamdi Rizq, a columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, wrote a scathing denunciation of the American Copts, calling them "the American Judas" and accusing them of selling out their homeland and delivering it into the hands of "the Jews of the U.S. Congress". He wrote: "Judas Iscariot agreed with the Jewish head priests that he would hand over the Messiah [Jesus] in return for 30 pieces of silver... Judas Iscariot is the forefather of the one who came out against us in a despicable manner, the one who is selling out his homeland for 30 [pieces of] silver, handing it over to the Jews of Congress and publically admitting his treason, unlike Judas Iscariot...

"[Despite] his evil inclinations, Judas's conscience abhorred [the act of] betraying his master for a price, and therefore he sentenced himself to death by hanging. The American Judas is an evil, greedy moneylender... He did not hang himself. In fact, he stiffened his thick neck, boasted to people about his betrayal, became even crazier and happily tweeted away. Satan entered [this] Judas's heart, and never left.

"The devil to whom the American Judas sold his soul tempted him to believe that the Christians in his homeland would listen to him, which is utterly impossible, since everyone knows that good souls abhor the stink of treason. [The Copts] therefore described him as a traitor, cursed him... and renounced his depraved act...

"[Coptic Egyptian MP] Margaret 'Azer shouted in the face of the frowning Judas, 'Egypt is a single body and a single national fabric, like the heart of a single man.' The woman Margaret 'Azar is the equal of 1,000 men... She did not remain silent in the face of falsehood, and the self-righteous voices defending Judas did not scare her...

"As long as we have deeply-rooted Christians like Margaret 'Azer, we will never have to fear for Egypt. Margaret and all other Egyptian Christians stood up to defend the Egyptian regime, in a spirit of patriotism, flowing with love for the soil of this homeland. They silenced the American Judas and his cronies, and lifted the mask from his face, exposing his villainy and filthiness.

"Jesus always knew Judas would betray him, but no Egyptian disciple of Jesus imagined that the American Judas would betray his homeland and sell it out for a meager price... They never imagined that Judas would [conspire] with the Jews of Congress and deliver the homeland into their hands... How was [the American] Judas tempted to sell the homeland to the priests of Congress for 30 pieces of silver?"[28]

Magdi Khalil In Response: As Long As The Persecution Of Copts Continues, We Will Continue Our Activism Against It Throughout The World

Replying to his critics in several posts on his Facebook page, Magdi Khalil stated that the Egyptian security apparatuses were behind people like Hamdi Rizq who denounce him and the Coptic Solidarity organization of which he is a member. In a December 25, 2017 post he wrote: "Hamdi Rizq received instructions to slander the Coptic diaspora, and he chose [to do so using] the twisted logic of the Islamists. For him, anyone who defends the Egyptian Christians is Judas, and anyone who follows the orders of the security apparatuses is [a saint, like] one of Jesus's disciples..."[29] In another post, he wrote: "As long as the persecution of Copts continues, we will continue our activism throughout the world in order to end it, while exposing the lies of the Egyptian government, its racism and the racism of its security apparatuses and media." [30]

Magdi Khalil (image:

In a January 7, 2017 post, he slammed the Egyptian authorities, saying that they invest funds in sprucing up Egypt's image in the U.S. and in denying the Copts' problems, instead of in solving these problems: "[It is] a farce by any standards. Covering up the Copts' problems benefits nobody. We have said dozens of times that if Egypt had invested half the efforts it invests in lying, and half the funds it invests in covering up the Copts' problems, in [actually] addressing these problems, it would have solved many of their chronic problems. Sadly, however, it insists on repeating the same mistakes it has been making for decades. The state has built a cathedral in the new administrative capital... [This] is a cosmetic move that does nothing to address the root of the problems. The state builds a church as a false message to the world, and at the same time closes hundreds of [other] churches...

"In June 2014, the state dispatched [a delegation of] 14 parliament members [to the U.S.] to spread lies about the situation of [Egypt's] Copts, while the Coptic Solidarity organization was holding a conference. [The delegation's] shame was exposed to all when the purpose of its visit was revealed. Following the introduction of the U.S. bill on the Copts, the Egyptian parliament decided to send [another] delegation of Coptic MPs [to the U.S.], to carry out a new Goebbels-style mission of lying about the state of the minority to which they belong...

"Since 2013, the Egyptian state has invested tens of millions [of dollars] in the U.S. to spruce up its image and to deny that the Copts are being persecuted. But the more money it spent, the more its failure and its disgrace became apparent, because reality and the truth speak for themselves. We say again and again that these cover-up measures will never work, because, the more the role of the new media gains significance, the clearer [true face] of the Egyptian government becomes. We advise [the government] to work on solving the Copts' problems instead of carrying out these Goebbels-style tricks."[31]   

It should be noted that Khalil has clashed in the past with Coptic activists and journalists living in Egypt,  including 'Imad Gad, and has accused them of serving the Egyptian security apparatuses and of acting against human rights and pro-democracy activists outside Egypt, and against anyone else who criticizes the Al-Sisi regime. For example, in March 2017 Khalil wrote that, before every visit by an Egyptian president to the U.S., writers associated with the Egyptian regime and its security apparatuses always slam the Copts living outside Egypt: "Since the days of Mubarak, every time an Egyptian president is about to visit the U.S., writers [close to] the security apparatuses, especially Coptic writers, attack the Copts in the diaspora and demonize them, on the instructions of their sponsors in the security [apparatuses]... On March 5, 2017, Dr. Imad Gad gave a long interview on the Sada Al-Balad [TV] channel, [which is close to the] security [apparatuses], launching an impudent attack and leveling a series of lies against Coptic activists outside Egypt. He called them 'a gang of extremists!!', and 'people who make a living attacking Egypt'... and then continued his boastful lies, accusing me, by name, of 'threatening to throw eggs and tomatoes at President Al-Sisi and his entourage' during [Al-Sisi's] visit to the UN in September 2016..." Khalil claimed further that "a central theme in [Gad's] writing is attacks on human rights and pro-democracy activists outside Egypt, as well as on anyone who criticizes the regime's political or security policy or Al-Sisi [himself] – because, for [Gad], Al-Sisi is like the long-awaited Messiah or a hero arriving [directly] from heaven."[32]    

* C. Meital is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1], December 26, 2017.

[2], December 26, 2017. It should be noted that in September 2016, H.R.5974 – Coptic Churches Accountability Act (, regarding "efforts to restore or repair" Christian property in Egypt "that was burned, damaged, or otherwise destroyed during the sectarian violence in August 2013," was introduced in the U.S. House. At that time, many elements in Egypt, including the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and the Coptic Church, expressed opposition to Congress's intervention in Egypt's internal affairs. See, December 28, 2016; Al-Watan, Egypt, December 28, 2016.

[4], December 26, 2017.

[5], December 26, 2017.

[6] On the mob attack on a church in Giza, see, December 24, 2017;, December 23, 2017.

[7], December 22, 2017.

[8] A reference to Egypt's submission of a resolution proposal to the UN Security Council against President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which was supported by 14 UNSC members and was vetoed by the U.S. See Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 19, 2017.

[9] Al-Yawm Al-Saba' (Egypt), December 27, 2017.

[10] Al-Dustour (Egypt), December 28, 2017.

[11], December 27, 2017.

[12] See, for example,, December 28, 2017.

[13] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 24, 2017.

[14], December 22, 2017.

[15] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), December 23, 2017.

[16] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 26, 2017.

[17], December 30, 2017.

[18] Al-Misryoun (Egypt), December 30, 2017.

[19], December 30 and 31, 2017 and January 8, 2018. For more about a possible visit in May 2018 by an Egyptian parliamentary delegation to the U.S. to discuss the bill and the reduction of economic aid to Egypt, see Al-Hayat (London), January 24, 2018.

[20] Al-Yawm Al-Saba' (Egypt), January 22, 2018.

[21] Al-Watan (Egypt), December 24, 2017.

[22] See for example, June 20, 2017.

[23] For more on President Al-Sisi's attendance at Orthodox Christian celebrations in Egypt, held for the first time in the Coptic cathedral build in the new administrative capital in Cairo, see Al-Ahram, Egypt, January 7, 2018. 

[24] Al-Ahram (Egypt), January 15, 2018.

[25] Wordplay in Arabic – "the slap of the century" in Arabic sounds very similar to "the deal of the century," i.e. President Trump's Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal.

[26] Al-Dustour (Egypt), December 24, 2017.

[27] Al-Dustour (Egypt), December 28, 2017.

[28] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 26, 2017.

[29], December 26, 2017

[30], December 23, 2017

[31],  January 7, 2018.

[32], March 10, 2017.

Share this Report:

Help Fight Extremism - Support MEMRI

MEMRI is a 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax-deductible and kept strictly confidential.