Last Updated: Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:52 am (KSA) 08:52 am (GMT)

The vice of ‘denial’: Forced immigration of Copts

Abdel Latif El-menawy

One of the main factors that hinder societies from achieving progress is “denial,” which means refusing to admit to the presence of a certain problem or downplaying its gravity. Unfortunately, this has for a long time been the case with our officials, but it is now even more blatant with the Muslim Brotherhood in power. I can write a lot about this chronic illness and the officials most inflicted with it, but I would rather focus on one single horrid incident: the forced immigration of Coptic families.

Not only did officials take no firm action against this disaster, but they also denied that there was a problem in the first place. The prime minister actually said that no Coptic families were forced to leave their homes in the town of Rafah. “One or two families chose to move to another place and they are totally free to do so like all Egyptian citizens,” he said.

So, this is the concept of “freedom” according to the new regime: citizens have the right to escape wherever they choose if their lives are in danger, especially if the source of danger is allied with this regime. I don’t know what can be said about this case of denial.

The truth is that nine Coptic families left the town after anti-Christian leaflets started circulating and after several of them received death threats. “Leave, Copts, or you will regret it,” they were told. I don’t think we need to say who issued those warnings, but according to the new definition of freedom, those families decided to practice their right to escape. Similar incidents took place in other parts of Egypt and the response was the same: the families chose to move and did not leave by force. I am not sure what the new definition of “by force” is according to the new regime. So terrorizing people does not make them leave by force? Do death threats leave anybody a choice? How could officials manipulate the truth and deny something as indisputable as this or choose to label it with milder terms?

“The justifications offered by the state about the families who allegedly choose to leave are unacceptable,” said a statement issued by the National Human Rights Council. “It is the state’s duty to protect its citizens and fend off any threats to which they are subjected. Abandoning this duty sets a very dangerous precedent.”

This reaction on the part of the government, the statement added, takes the country back to the dark ages and turns it in a lawless state.

This is indeed what is bound to happen in a country in which the regime overlooks sectarian or ethnic violence and allies itself with the extremists and terrorists that perpetrate it.

One of the serious problems we are now facing is this flagrant violation of the principles of citizenship and the way this concept is being intentionally and constantly tarnished. During the past few months, we have been witnessing campaigns that aim at obliterating the value of citizenship and altering the ethics of belonging. What makes the problem even more serious is that those attempts are being supported, or at least not condemned, by the current regime which keeps talking about democracy. One of the most important requirements of a democracy is equality between all citizens regardless of gender, color, or religion. Here I am talking about the citizens of this country and not those who want to usurp it.

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