Senators Want U.S. Response to Attacks on Christians in Egypt

Violence against Christians in Egypt “warrants a clear U.S. response,” declared Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and two of his colleagues, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), this week. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, these Senators highlighted mounting deaths and injuries to Christian individuals, as well as the destruction of scores of churches, homes, and Christian-owned businesses, and stated, “Egypt’s Christian minority and their ability to worship are in danger.”

In addition to requesting information about how the State Department will work to combat this problem, they urged the quick nomination of a new Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, following the departure of Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook last week. They asserted:

It is our view that Egypt is part of a broader trend: religious freedoms throughout the Middle East and South Central Asia, particularly for Christians, are under assault. The U.S. must respond to this challenge and continue to be a forceful defender of religious freedom throughout the world. We recognize this is not an easy task. We offer our support and stand prepared to work with you as you find ways to use U.S. influence to stop sectarian violence and end the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Notably, Senator Blunt continues to advocate for legislation (S. 653) that would create a special envoy at the State Department focusing specifically on the situations facing religious minorities in the Near Eastand South Central Asia. Companion legislation (H.R. 301), sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), passed in the House last month by a vote of 402-22.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: October 25, 2013