COPTIC VISA-NIX SCANDAL
By NILES LATHEM
December 26, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — The State Department has launched an investigation into whether hard-line Islamic employees at the U.S Embassy in Egypt are working behind the scenes to deny visas to Coptic Christians, The Post has learned
State Department officials are closely examining 15 to 20 Egyptian employees of the embassy's consular section after top officials received complaints from lawyers and human-rights groups about discriminatory behavior toward the Copts seeking visas to the United States, sources said.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, may have been wrongly denied visas, sources said
In a recent meeting organized by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), top State Department officials were told that these employees, who conduct prescreening interviews and translations, appear to have unusual influence over a process that is supposed to be controlled by Americans.
"This is a widespread problem that we have been aware of for some time. Now, however, there are people stepping forward and are making formal complaints," said Father Keith Roderick, head of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights, who attended the meeting.
Among those making complaints to the State Department is a Christian man who was seeking to donate a kidney to an uncle in New Jersey.
He says he was twice told to remove the cross he was wearing if he wanted a visa. He refused and was denied a visa.
Another is a woman who was scheduled to speak at a recent human-rights conference in Washington about what it is like to live in a Muslim-dominated country.
She claimed embassy officials demanded to see her speech.
She and two other Egyptian Copts were denied a visa while Egyptian Muslims were granted visas.
They have asked that their names not be made public for fear of retaliation in Egypt.
There have also been complaints that these employees keep posters in the embassy promoting supporters of the Hamas terror group.
"This should be a concern because if they can influence who they can keep out of the United States, they could also influence who can get in," said Caroline Doss, a Jersey City immigration lawyer who presented State Department officials with affidavits from Coptic Christian clients.
Wolf, who heads a subcommittee that controls the State Department's budget, had no comment because he is conducting a separate probe.
State Department officials wouldn't comment.
For more info: Does The American Embassy In Cairo Discriminate Against Coptic Christians