After weeks of violence against Egypt's Coptic Christians, Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) repeated his call for legislation to promote religious freedom in the Middle East on Wednesday.
Blunt's bill, which he introduced in March, proposes the institution of a U.S. State Department envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East, according to a statement from Blunt's office. The legislation has bipartisan support, and 10 senators have cosponsored the bill.
“The continued violence against Coptic Christians and other civilians in Egypt is incredibly disturbing and flies in the face of the religious freedoms and fundamental values that Americans hold dear,” said Blunt.
Sixty Coptic churches have burned down since the military overthrew former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Aug. 14. According to the Washington Post Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood supporters are responsible for many of the attacks on Christians. Christians said that the attacks grew worse after Islamist protests were thwarted by police. The Post reported:
Some witnesses said attackers had chanted against military rule, and one man said the group he saw attack a church had worn green headbands marked by the Muslim Brotherhood’s crossed-swords insignia.
While Islamist groups punish Christians for their troubles with the government, the security forces do little to protect the religious minority.
The Post reported:
Egypt’s security forces have rarely stood in the way of the country’s explosive sectarian violence, and the senior Western official said it was not out of the question that the security forces — who typically do not wear uniforms and sometimes carry weapons concealed in their long, flowing galabiyas — had played a role in stirring last week’s violence.
Some residents interviewed in Minya province said they believed the Brotherhood has blamed Christians because of the support voiced by Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic Church leader, for the July 3 military takeover that ousted Morsi.
Correction: The original post stated that Blunt proposed this legislation on Wednesday. However, the bill was introduced in March.