12/28/2021 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Last week an Egyptian court sentenced three human rights activists to up to five years in prison, according to a report by the the Wall Street newspaper. The condemnations come as the United States continues to closely monitor human rights conditions in Egypt as a key part of the two-country alliance.

The three convicted men, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mohamed el-Baqer and Mohamed Ibrahim, have all been convicted of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news. The convictions are part of a series of human rights violations committed by the Egyptian government in cracking down on dissidents and human rights defenders.

Ramy Kamel, an advocate for the persecuted Coptic Christian community in Egypt, is another example of the government’s crackdown on human rights defenders. Mr Kamel was arrested more than two years ago just before he left for speaking out about the plight of Egyptian Copts on similar charges of links to terrorism, although little evidence of this has been produced by the government. Although Kamel has been jailed under Egypt’s long-standing state of emergency, he remains in prison without a hearing date despite the recent lifting of the state of emergency.

Many post-Egypt human rights observers hoped conditions in the country would improve following the US threat to withhold military aid to the North African country. Although progress was made on this front with the release last week of Patrick Zaki, another Coptic rights activist, many remain concerned about violations of religious freedom in Egypt.

In its 2021 annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that Egypt be placed on the State Department’s Special Watch List for countries with governments “commit or tolerate serious violations of religious freedom,According to the USCIRF report. Despite this recommendation, the State Department did not make such a designation.

To ensure that Egypt makes real efforts to improve the situation of the country’s Coptic community, US officials must pressure these detentions with their Egyptian counterparts.

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