Some two months ago, MP Mustafa al-Fiqi made a declaration to the effect that the era of President Mubarak had seen no discrimination against Copts, with many of them reaching senior positions in various fields. Dr Fiqi categorically denied that Copts were deprived of holding specific positions. I refuted Dr Fiqi’s claim at the time in a Watani editorial, and explained that disproving discrimination against Copts can never be achieved by recalling sweet memories of the good old days while denying the present; it requires some solid facts on today’s ground to prove the claim is false. It also requires that any case of suspected discrimination should be carefully investigated and the claimant granted his or her right.
I have before me two cases of Copts who complain that, through the unjust oppression exercised by their superiors, they have been deprived of promotion to leading posts in their fields of work. In publishing the details of both cases I am adopting no stance in favour of the claimants, but rather bringing their cases to the attention of the relevant authorities for investigation and rightful action.
Dr Saïd Michel Bishara was general manager of the health department in Damanhur, Beheira from January 2002 till July 2008. A false report by a supervising officer at the Health Ministry citing Dr Bishara as deficient in conducting his office responsibilities resulted in an official charge of negligence and inadequacy. Dr Bishara was penalised with a 15-day deduction of his salary and was demoted to a lesser ranking position in a different department. Dr Bishara contested the penalty and the demotion and won a ruling from the Disciplinary Court annulling both penalties, thus a decision to restore him to his former position as general manager was issued by the Health Minister. Dr Bishara felt he was redeemed. In April 2010 he was back to his office. The surprise came one week later, when a new decision was issued by the same person who had issued the previous one, returning Dr Bishara to the junior position, contrary to the court ruling, under the pretext that “it is in favour of the work”. As though this were a legitimate reason to throw to the wind the court ruling.
Dr Bishara says that the persistence to demote him reveals utter disrespect of the court ruling, and violates the labour law which bans the demotion of an employee since it is a waste of capability and expertise. It is also an unacceptable affront; Dr Bishara now has to report to a superior who had been one of his junior employees.
The second complaint is of a Copt who was deprived of rightfully holding a leading post and was sent away with the statement: “This position is not open to Copts”. I had cited his case before but refer to it again today since some new details urge me to present it to the Minister of Electricity and Power Hussein Younis.
It is the case of Dr Adel Ghali Seif who heads the department of Nuclear Science at the Atomic Energy Authority’s Nuclear Research Centre, and who was last year excluded from the post of head of the authority, even though he was the most eligible candidate. The same scenario was repeated this year when he became eligible to head the centre. Last April, the post of deputy head of the authority became vacant, and again Dr Seif topped the list of eligible candidates. Dr Seif has to his credit some 50 papers published in international scientific periodicals and a list of awards including a 1996 State Encouragement Prize and a 1997 Medal of Excellence. In addition, he currently heads the permanent scientific committee for physics and maths at the Atomic Energy Authority. Will these credentials again fail to recommend him for the leading post, only because he is a Copt?