The 2008 U.S. report on International Religious Freedom has criticized the Egyptian government for restricting the practice of religious freedoms.
The author divides the 2008 U.S. Religious Freedom Report into five categories. [to read the report in full see: www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/]
I: Authoritarian regimes controlling religious thought by using terrorism as a pretext to suppress peaceful religious practices.
II: Persecution of minorities and religious groups.
III: Failure to fight intolerance against religious groups.
IV: Governments enacting laws or taking action that benefits only the religion of the majority.
V: Not recognizing other religions and banning their believers from declaring their creeds.
He says the black list of the report included Burma, China, Eritrea, North Korea and Iran, while Saudi Arabia began to show some improvement.
As for Egypt, the author says the report criticized the government for restricting religious practices despite some positive steps in this regard, and accused it of failing to alleviate the discriminatory laws and practices against Christians, and of a slow police response to some incidents of sectarian strife.
The report said the government does not follow Article 46 of the Constitution on freedom of belief and religious practice, as it does not recognize the conversion of Muslims to any other religion. It said those converts were arrested on the basis of some judicial rulings, such as the ruling in January 2008 by the Administrative Court that said freedom of conversion between religions does not apply to Muslims, and the ruling that constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion do not apply to Bahā’īs, who are still subject to law No. 263 of 1960 that bans their activities. With regard to the Personal Status Law, it only recognizes the three monotheistic religions, except in cases of conflict between a Christian woman and a Muslim man, where Sharī‘ah would be applied.
The report said the government bans the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is engaged in charitable and political activity, and arrested its members on charges of belonging to a banned organization.
It said the government gave the Azhār powers to confiscate intellectual and artistic works that it would deem non-compliant with Sharī‘ah, and that it discriminated between Muslims and Christians in public sector employment. It also mentioned some sectarian clashes, such as the incidents at Abū Fānā Monastery and in the village of Armant.