A report from the International Labour Organization [ILO, see: www.ilo.org] has accused the Egyptian government of practising systematic discrimination against Copts in education and job opportunities.
“Copts in Egypt…are denied equal access to education and equal opportunities in recruitment and promotion. Very few are appointed to key positions in the government or are candidates for parliament. Enrolment of Copts in police academies and military schools is restricted, and very few are teachers and professors,” the report claims. [Reviewer: This is all the report says about Copts, no further details or references are provided. Other sections of the 3-page report deal with women and employment in the Arab world and the position of migrant workers. For the report in full see: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/declaris/DECLARATIONWEB.DOWNLOAD_BLOB?Var_Documen.... Editor: Denied equal access to education? Where does this claim come from? Complaints about recruitment and employment are indeed frequently heard, so are other complaints]
Responding to the report, the Egyptian Minister of Labor and Immigration Mrs. ‘Ā’ishah ‘Abd al-Hādī denied the accusations, hinting that Copts own more than one-third of the national wealth in Egypt, despite representing only 10% of the population. “In all its laws and legislations, there is not single text discriminates the Egyptian citizens according to religion,” said the minister, adding: “The first article of the Constitution highlights the principle of citizenship as the base between the state and its citizens with no features of favoritism.”
The head of the Word Center for Human Rights [Reviewer: no link found] Mamdūh Nakhlah has sent an official response to the head of the ILO, expressing his umbrage on the Egyptian Government’s official response to the report. Nakhlah has said no statistics in Egypt can identify the economic activities according to religious bases, wondering how the minister could give the number of Copts, when there are no accurate statistics available on the matter.
Coptic thinker Jamāl As‘ad condemns the minister’s statement which has divided the country into Muslims and Copts, he said, “in a way that serves the American plans in the Middle East region.” As for owning one-third of the national wealth, As‘ad regards it as the minister wanting to tell Copts: “Be satisfied with economics and leave other aspects of life including politics.”
Sāmir Sulaymān, a professor of Political Economics at the American University in Cairo [AUC], considers the minister’s statements as a provocation of sectarian strife, “Because she simple tells people that only 10% of the population owns one-third of your income.”
Muḥsin Sharqāwī of al-Usbū‘ regards the report as a conspiracy to harm the good relations between Muslims and Copts in Egypt. He believes that some Coptic bodies abroad use case-by-case incidents against Copts to prove that the government is systematically practising it. For a handful of dollars, they trade in the fame of their country, Sharqāwī believes.
“Many Coptic candidates succeed in electoral districts inhabited by Muslim majority,” the minister said.
Dr. Ikrām Lam‘ī, a teacher of Comparative Religions in the Faculty of Theology, attributes the success Copts have achieved in non-governmental work to the difficulties they face in hiring on governmental positions. Therefore, the success of the Coptic minority in private work sector proves that they already face discriminatory hiring policies with the general sector and governmental employments.
“I left her – the minister – saying that many Copts succeed in area inhabited by Muslims with a smile,” said Lam‘ī. [Reviewer: no Coptic candidates in the last People’s Assembly election in 2005 succeeded except for the current minister of finance, Dr. Yūsuf Butrus Ghālī]