Friday, May 26, 2006

Dozens of Coptic Christians protest outside Chicago King Tut exhibit: UPDATED!

Yesterday, in my second Egyptian post of the day, I made the point that protesting outside the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs exhibit about the plight of jailed Egyptian blogger Alaa was definitely fair game, since the government of Egypt is collecting about half the gate receipts from this lucrative show.

As I was typing that post, a group of Coptic Christians were outside Chicago's Field Museum drawing the attention of the plight of the members of their faith in Egypt.

From the Chicago Tribune, free registration may be required:

Discrimination and human rights abuses against Coptic Christians remain widespread in Egypt, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Copts face societal intolerance, and Egyptian authorities have been accused of being lax in protecting their rights.

No Christians serve as governors, presidents or deans of public universities, and very few Christians hold positions in the upper ranks of the security services and the armed forces, Coptic community leaders said. A 14th Century law bars Christians not only from building new churches, they said, but also from performing necessary maintenance on structures without government approval.

Recent violence in Coptic churches in Egypt has renewed fears of escalating religious strife. In April, a Muslim man was accused of knife attacks at three Coptic Christian churches in Alexandria that left one man dead and about a dozen others wounded. The incident unleashed three days of rioting on the same weekend Christians were observing Orthodox Palm Sunday.

Anissa Essam Hassouna, an official with the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and part of the Egyptian delegation visiting Chicago, said Thursday that the government has "neglected" the issue of how Copts are treated in Egypt but "is trying to do better."

Well, Egypt has to do a lot better. Besides the mistreatment of the Copts, last month Egyptian blogger Alaa was jailed while attending a peaceful protest. He's still incarcerated.

People shelling out at least $31 per ticket to see the King Tut exhibit (again, about half goes back to Egypt) deserve to learn about Alaa.

Related posts: Egypt, King Tut, and blogger Alaa

Alaa in prison: Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review #4 follow-up

UPDATE May 29: TigerHawk found one of the few MSM articles to cover Alaa's plight. Along with Sandmonkey, TH has been aggressively following this story.

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