Monday, January 24, 2011

Activists rally to protect Christians in the Middle East Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Khari Williams
in 1CultureD.C./MetroWorld
A motley group of individuals and organizations from across the United States are banding together to speak out against what they consider a modern-day genocide: the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

Groups such as the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, American Mesopotomian Organization and National American Coptic Assembly are lobbying the Iraqi and U.S. governments to do more to protect Iraq's Assyrian community, described as the world's first converts to Christianity, as well as Christians elsewhere in the Middle East.

John Sadik
Voice of the Coptic

Accountant John Sadik, 28, is speaker for the 7-year-old D.C. chapter of the National Coptic Assembly. Born in Egypt, Sadik came to the U.S. at age 17 to attend George Mason University and now lives in Fairfax, Va. He said Egypt's Christians, who make up 10 percent of the country's population of about 80 million, are routinely marginalized and discriminated against by Muslims inside and outside of government.

"It's very hard to get a permit to build a church or repair a restroom in a church," Sadik said. "In the media, we don't have any shows or programs to talk about Christians in Egypt, but we pay taxes to the government."

Sadik explained that Christians occupy two minor government cabinets but have no representatives in Parliament, and there are no Christian governors or university deans throughout the country. They are also targeted by government-supported militias, he said.

Sadik said he wants the Obama administration to use economic sanctions and threaten to cut off military support in order to pressure Egyptian officials to do more for the country's Christians. But he said his lobbying efforts have garnered mixed results, partly because the U.S. is reliant on Egyptian support in the Mideast peace process.

"The Obama administration, they've tried to be very peaceful with the Muslim world," Sadik said. "They don't want to pressure them, and I don't think that's a right way to do it. I understand there are some other interests, but I think ... you have to show you are strong. The Muslims, you have to treat them very tough."

Joined in Protest

Sadik braved the cold Saturday, Dec. 4, to attend a rally and protest outside the White House in support of Iraqi Christians.

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