CAIRO: The Foreign Relations Committee of the People’s Assembly (PA) rejected the statement issued by the European Parliament (EP) regarding the Nagaa Hammadi killings when it convened late on Monday.
Members of the committee argued that Europe was not in a position to pass judgment due to violations against freedom of belief in its own backyard. House speaker Ahmed Fathi Sorour, who chaired the meeting, said that the statement from the EP was completely rejected.
The EP had adopted a text last Thursday that expressed concern over recent acts of violence against Christians in both Malaysia and Egypt.
The text called on “the Egyptian government to ensure the personal safety and physical integrity of Coptic Christians and of members of other religious minorities in the country, as well as guaranteeing that “Coptic Christians and members of other religious communities and minorities enjoy the full range of human rights and fundamental freedoms – including the right to choose and change their religion freely – and to prevent any discrimination against them.
Additionally, the EP acknowledged that “Europe, like other parts of the world, is not exempt from cases of violation of that freedom, and experiences individual crimes committed against members of minorities on the basis of their beliefs.
The adopted text also stressed that the Parliament “deplores incidents of religiously-motivated violence on European soil, including the murder of Marwa Al-Sherbini, and expresses its solidarity with the families of the victims.
Egypt had previously insisted that the Nagaa Hammadi affair – in which six Copts and one Muslim were killed in a shooting outside a church on the eve of Coptic Christmas – was a purely internal matter and criticized certain members of the EP for attempting to push a resolution on the incident.
Egypt’s remarks about the incident came as a delegation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom paid a visit to Egypt ahead of launching its annual report. Egypt is on the commission’s watch list.
The delegation met with head of Al-Azhar Mohamed Sayed Tantawy and Minister of Religious Endowments Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq as well as rights activists involved in cases of freedom of expression.
Pope Shenouda III had refused to meet with the delegation claiming that these were internal matters in which there should be no foreign interference.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that other members of Al-Azhar were against meeting with the American delegation, again citing foreign meddling in domestic affairs.
Margaret White, US embassy spokesperson, had told Daily News Egypt last Sunday that three commissioners from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent body whose members are appointed by the US Congress and President, are currently visiting Egypt.
“They are here on a routine fact-finding visit in advance of their annual report, she said. “This trip has been planned for some time and is not related to any specific event.