The Starbucks in the heart of George Mason University’s Fairfax campus is an ocean away from his ancestral homeland, but the images sent from his 76,000 Facebook followers provide a stark and saddening reminder of the plight facing Michael Meunier’s fellow Coptic Christians in Egypt these days.
Swiping through the images, Mr. Meunier, the founder, and president of the U.S. Copts Association, says they tell the stories of a string of recent radical Islamic terror attacks against the Copts, a minority group that constitutes about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
One shows a hosanna leaf, drizzled with blood on a church floor. There are screenshots of notes where families have requested justice after learning a parent was killed in an attack. Still others depict the aftermath of a church bombing and a massacre targeting Coptic bus passengers, featuring mounds of debris and throngs of dead adults and children.
Mr. Meunier said he can’t help but feel disheartened as he learns about the escalating political violence against his fellow Copts. In an interview, he said the U.S. government can do more to respond to the terrorist attacks that have killed more than 100 Copts since December — including passing a religious freedom bill that authorizes sanctions and other penalties in the face of religious persecution abroad.
“Egypt economically is in deep trouble, so we don’t want to penalize it at this stage, so people don’t think that we in the U.S. are trying to undermine their livelihood in Egypt,” Mr. Meunier said. But, he added, “there cannot be a tradeoff between a good relationship with Egypt at the expense of Christians.”
The only permanent solution to removing the shadow of terrorism affecting the Copts would be for the government of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to ban Islamist teachings that demonize Christians. And that, of course, can only be enforced within the state
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