COPTS: U.S. TURNS BLIND EYE TO BIAS
By NILES LATHEM
Advocates for Coptic Christians are charging the State Department with whitewashing charges that hard-line Muslims at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt are denying visas for religious reasons.
"They have their heads in the sand and their ears closed to a disturbing problem," said the Rev. Keith Roderick, head of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights.
He was responding to the State Department's vigorous efforts to dispute The Post's report on Monday that 15 to 20 employees at the Cairo embassy's consular section were being investigated because of the bias charges.
The Post revealed that at a Dec. 8 meeting, senior State Department officials were presented with affidavits of Copts. The complaints alleged that Islamist posters were on display in the embassy — including one that depicted a U.S. supporter of the Hamas terrorist group.
A day after The Post's story, U.S. officials in Cairo took reporters from other papers on a tour of the embassy to deny the posters were on display. Yesterday, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said, "Our embassy in Cairo looked into the complaints and found no basis for any allegation that the [visa] decisions were made on any basis other than U.S. law and regulations." Coptic Christians have long complained of religious discrimination.
Magdi Khalil, executive editor of Watani International, a Coptic newspaper in Egypt, said yesterday he has received "hundreds of complaints" about discrimination against Copts at the embassy.