USCIRF releases new report on Egypt’s religious freedom improvements and challenges

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Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released the following new report:

Egypt Country Update – This report assesses Egypt’s recent initiatives to improve religious freedom conditions and highlights ways in which the Egyptian government can improve its treatment of religious minorities. The country update acknowledges Egypt’s continued, if slow, implementation of the 2016 Church Building Law; the first National Human Rights Strategy announced in September 2021; and efforts to restore sites of religious significance to Christians, Jews, and Shi’a Muslims. Additionally, the report notes several key areas in which Egypt still restricts religious freedom. Although in October 2021 President Fattah El-Sisi lifted the state of emergency long used to justify limitations on human rights and religious freedom, the Egyptian government continues to enforce blasphemy laws and has kept in place the prolonged pre-trial detention and indictment of religious minority leaders such as Coptic activists Ramy Kamel and Patrick George Zakiand prominent Qur’anist Reda Abdel Rahman.

In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended the State Department include Egypt on its Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe religious freedom violations. An episode of the USCIRF Spotlight Podcast in July 2021 addressed the Egyptian criminal justice system’s targeting of Qur’anists, a Muslim minority community.

2021-Egypt-Country-Update