PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
E-mail: press@centerforinquiry.net

Secular Organization Condemns Attacks on Religious Groups in Egypt

August 22, 2013

Center for Inquiry Calls for End to Sectarian Bloodshed, Urgent Move Toward Reform

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) today expressed outrage and dismay at the growing instability in Egypt that has resulted in scores of Christian churches and homes damaged or destroyed, hundreds of people dead, and others detained – many on account of their religious affiliations.

In response to the July 3 coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi from power, Islamists, including some who support Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, have carried out attacks on Christian houses of worship, as well as homes and shops owned by Christians. The violence has swollen to the point that Sunday Mass had to be canceled in the city of Minya for the first time in 1,600 years.

The Egyptian military, which now controls the country, has also reportedly arrested or killed large numbers of Muslims affiliated with the Morsi regime and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“As an organization dedicated to secular humanist values, we unequivocally condemn the persecution and violence being directed at Christians in Egypt. Similarly, to the extent the military is targeting some Muslim Egyptians because of their religious beliefs, we condemn its actions,” said Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “No person should be targeted for violence because of his or her religious affiliation. As atheists and humanists, though we may disagree strongly with the beliefs of other groups, we wholeheartedly reject oppression and violence carried out against those who hold those beliefs. Freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right.”

Egypt has a poor track record in regard to the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression. CFI, which supports affiliated organizations around the world, including in predominately-Muslim countries, has been an advocate for religious liberty in the country for several years. Recently, through its Campaign for Free Expression, CFI worked to highlight and fight the persecution and prosecution of Alber Saber, an atheist who faced blasphemy charges during riots last fall.

“Despite these horrendous attacks, the opportunity remains for Egypt to turn the corner toward upholding and protecting fundamental human rights,” said Michael De Dora, director CFI’s Office of Public Policy and the organization’s representative to the United Nations. “It is imperative that the international community realize the urgency of this situation and pressure Egypt’s leaders to assure a prompt return to the rule of a system of laws that respects democratic values and protects individuals’ freedoms of religion and conscience.”

CFI is currently working with officials at both the U.S. State Department and United Nations to help ensure that the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression are enjoyed by all persons in Egypt, and elsewhere.

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.