Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Dr. Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts a human right organization with offices in USA and Italy - recently spoke at the first congress of SION in New York City on September 11, 2012.

Most Recent Articles by Dr. Ashraf Ramelah:

One year, one kilometer apart … same persecution of Copts

Nov 4, 2018 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

One year, one kilometer apart … same persecution of Copts
Once again, we are forced to report another deadly Islamic attack on Egyptian Copts. This latest attack on November 2 is almost an exact copy of the one that took place in the same location nearly one year ago.

A group of Coptic tourists from Al-Minya and Suhag, Upper Egypt, in three minibuses left the Monastery of Saint Samuel after their visit and prayers when two off-road vehicles filled with terrorists sped out of the desert to obstruct the caravan.

From Egypt: A list of recently reported assaults on Coptic Christians

Oct 5, 2018 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

From Egypt: A list of recently reported assaults on Coptic Christians
On August 22, in the village of Al Zenika located in the Province of Luxor (Upper Egypt), Islamists demanded the stoppage of prayer in the church of the Virgin Mary. To satisfy the Islamists, the church doors were bolted shut after police evacuated the parishioners. Furthermore, five Copts were arrested.

On August 24, in the village of Ezbet el Sultan in Al Minya province (Upper Egypt), a group of Islamists stood next to the village church screaming “we do not want a church here,” protesting Copts praying and demanding the Church be shut down.

Egypt: President appoints two Christian governors defying Islamic Sharia

Sep 12, 2018 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Egypt: President appoints two Christian governors defying Islamic Sharia
In Egypt, the president appoints the governors of the country’s provinces. This practice began with President Nasser after the kings’ era. Last month, President Al-Sisi appointed two Christian governors to two principally Christian provinces—the highest concentration of Christians in all of rural Egypt—located in Upper Egypt and West Egypt. This is monumental in a country where Islamic sectarianism dictates politics.

When Al-Sisi took office in 2013 for a four-year term, he immediately appointed new governors, all Muslim, for each of the 27 provinces as did his predecessors – Mubarak, Sadat, and Nasser. Now in the beginning of his second term, Al-Sisi replaced two of his original governors at the end of their six-year terms with two Christians – the first time in modern history that some all-Christian towns would have a Christian administration. However, there was one earlier unsuccessful attempt at this by Egypt’s military interim government (SCAF) in 2012 after Mubarak was ousted.

Facebook post sparks violence in Egypt: Copts suffer

Aug 3, 2018 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Facebook post sparks violence in Egypt: Copts suffer
In Arab-Muslim countries limited-free speech is the norm due to political and religious constraints. Tunisia and Morocco are not as severe as others. Middle East governments often speak highly of liberty and democracy especially when addressing the West. However, in reality, these regimes are totalitarian and dictatorial.

Islamic religious doctrine governs the state to a lesser or greater degree. The Quran and the Sharia forbid freedoms that are taken for granted in the West. Islam is a hyper-sensitive ideology with severe ramifications built into its doctrine. The world knows this, and our way to respond to it should be made a priority for debate in our society. Instead, we’re rolling it into our diversity dialogue and accepting it.

Bishop of Abu Makkar Monastery in Egypt found dead

Jul 31, 2018 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Tragic loss of Bishop Epiphanius
In the early morning hours of Sunday, July 29, the 63 year old Bishop Epiphanius, head of the Abu Makkar Monastery, was found dead on the ground in a pool of blood. The monks of Abu Makkar discovered the bishop’s body on a path leading to the church with his head smashed. They contacted the pope’s office as well as law enforcement.

In Egypt Copts are living with police brutality

Jul 27, 2018 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

In Egypt Copts are living with police brutality
When a citizen encounters danger there is really only one thing to do; go to the police. A policeman’s duty is to protect and serve the citizens. In Egypt, over the doorway of every police station is a slogan pertaining to this commitment. It reads, “Police are for the service of the people,” which is the very slogan painted across every police car in Egypt.

This past week, when an Egyptian Copt was threatened by a thug that broke into his place of business he decided to go to his local police station to report the issue. He trusted their slogan in the new post-Mubarak and post-Morsi era. He tested it out, and now this law-abiding citizen is dead.

Egypt’s election: All votes will go to Al-Sisi

Mar 27, 2018 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Egypt’s election: All votes will go to Al-Sisi
Egypt is holding its presidential election now through March 28. President Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi is running for re-election after four years of his first term. There is one opposing candidate from the Tomorrow Party who has vowed to cast his vote for the president and encourages all Egyptians to do the same. 
The ballots will be counted by the Election Commission as usual with the political parties in observance. The president is an independent candidate of the military without a political party. However, the military will be absent from the process because constitutionally it cannot be a part of civilian elections.

Egypt: Al Sisi’s pre-election maneuvers guarantee his March election victory

Feb 13, 2018 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Imagine just one of the eighty-seven ancient, Orthodox churches in Egypt now in a heap of rubble fully restored and meeting the needs of the poor at its door. Should the state funds for Egypt’s upcoming presidential election this March be put to better use? Al Sisi has emptied the field of all challengers except for one, and Mr. Musa Mustafa Musa, head of Al Ghad (Tomorrow) Party, has already announced that although he is a candidate “he will give his vote to the president” implying that every Egyptian should do the same. Al-Sisi’s second term will be all but automatic. 

Al Sisi assures his win by ridding all civilian candidates from the slate. Here’s how. A human rights attorney, Kaled Ali, withdrew his campaign after citing the Al Sisi regime’s restrictions on the presidential election process and the oppression of power. A soccer club president and parliamentarian, Mortadi Mansur, decided to withdraw his name after the arrests of two fellow candidates (mentioned below). When the nephew of former President Anwar El Sadat became a candidate he was black-listed from conference rooms and suffered organized attacks and distortion directed at him with limited time to respond due to election bureaucracy, so was forced to withdraw. The race was thereby cleared of all non-military opponents.

Al-Sisi’s old guard appointee maintains anti-Copts solutions to jihad

Nov 16, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Al-Sisi’s old guard appointee maintains anti-Copts solutions to jihad
General Essam Al-Badawi was installed as Al Minya’s governor (in Upper Egypt) in September 2016 when President Al-Sisi was replacing local officials. He graduated from the police academy in the mid-eighties last century after a long career with the National Security Service. Statements made recently by the governor in response to antagonism and threats towards Christians and the forced closing of Saint George Church (on Oct 27) have aroused widespread suspicion of him among Copts inside and outside Egypt.

His denial of “sectarian” strife as the cause of the recent closures of three churches and an assault on a fourth issued on the heels of Bishop Makarious’ pointed objections displays his interest in gaining control over this narrative with a pro-Islamic stance.  Sectarianism is rife with Muslim civil servants and becomes an obstacle to any attempts at equality under the law.

More “peace solutions”: Egyptian Copts pay the price

Nov 1, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

The Islamic Bedouin peace process, used for negotiating an agreement between two tribes, arrived in Egypt via Saudi Arabia with the Arab conquest. Today, the technique is utilized to settle issues between Muslims and the indigenous Copts. The Copts submit to prepared agreements that force them as innocent victims into statements of guilt along with penalties, by-passing the courts.

Last week on Friday, October 27, following an attack by jihadists against Copts gathering to pray in a newly renovated church a week earlier, the heads of 1,800 Copts from the village of Al Kashery (Abu Kurkas region of Al Minya) were coerced into a Bedouin Peace Reconciliation meeting after a throng of Muslims (a thousand or more) gathered for prayer outside the mosque and threatened the church across the road.

Egyptian president visits France: Declares “modernity” while Coptic church is seized

Oct 26, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Coptic Christians in Egypt
During President Al Sisi’s press conference during his visit to France a few days ago (Saturday, Oct 21), a journalist asked about Egyptian human rights. The President replied that Egypt is suffering from disorder and chaos, adding, “I am keen to establish a modern and civil state.”

Meanwhile in Egypt on the same day, the government Zoning and Planning Commission paid a visit to a four-year old, owned and occupied Orthodox building containing a church for a surprise inspection. The Upper Egypt region of Egypt is primarily Christian and subject to gestapo-like scrutiny with a view to shutting down churches. The village of Al Hager in Suhag has three thousand Coptic Orthodox inhabitants with only one church a mile away – too far to walk.

Islamic terrorist murders Coptic priest

Oct 16, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

We are not without sympathy for the Muslim Egyptian who is under pressure, indeed coercion towards a Sharia fundamentalism that’s touted today in Egypt – in particular by the powers-that-be from Al-Azhar Institute, the Muslim Brotherhood factions and the fundamentalist Salafi remnant currently influencing believers.  It is difficult to be patient with the slow process of expunging or relegating these influences and the long-haul of reform (if in fact the effort to do so actually exists in Egypt today as we are told) when the outcome of Sharia brainwashing is so gruesomely apparent in crimes such as last Thursday’s bludgeoning to death of Coptic Christian Orthodox Monsignor Samaan Shehata.

Al-Azhar deep state strikes at Egypt’s constitutional free speech

Oct 2, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

In June this year, Justices Alito and Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in their separate opinions for Matal v. Tam that there is no “hate speech” exception to the first amendment of the constitution. In other words, “hate speech” is free speech. In that same month, Egypt’s parliament found a new hate speech bill placed before them for review.  It is likely Egypt’s legislators will not take their lead from the United States but follow the footsteps of Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France and Denmark, to turn the bill entitled, “Combating Hatred and Violence” into law. The vote is scheduled to take place in the near future.

Two Coptic churches re-open; two meetings held: Are they related?

Sep 16, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

On Sunday, September 10, two Coptic churches were re-opened by an executive order made by President Al-Sisi. One of them was the St. Mary Church of Al-Furn village in Al Minya diocese, which was illegally shut down by Egyptian police recently in the final days of the Virgin Mary fast. 

Bishop Makariuos of Al Minya diocese issued a statement to announce this good news. He indicated that Al-Sisi issued an executive order to local law enforcement to re-open the two churches on the eve of the new Coptic year.

Tunisian gender reforms countered in Egypt by female Coptic MP

Sep 11, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Under the Al-Sisi government, Copts expect the religious scholars of Al-Ahzar Institute to reform Islam. A good beginning would look like this: removal of violence-oriented content from school textbooks, moderate preaching from imams who are Al-Ahzar-certified, and the advancement of women’s rights under Sharia-Islamic law (indirectly affecting Copts who are pressured to follow it.) Are these expectations warranted? No, not likely. Recently, a campaign was launched inside Egypt by Al-Ahzar Institute’s leaders against the civilizing reforms announced by President Al-Sibsi of Tunisia last month on the occasion of Tunisia’s Women’s Day. 

Broadcasting through Egyptian TV, “fatwa” kiosks in subway platforms, and mosque assemblies, Al-Ahzar reacted quickly to refute every provision of President Al-Sibsi’s daring proposals in order to prohibit any influence of Tunisia’s enlightenment from seeping into the eager minds of Egyptian citizens. Al-Ahzar scholars flatly denounced the call by the Tunisian president for equality in inheritance for Tunisians, proving Al-Ahzar’s convictions are calcified and committed to the 7th century. While the Tunisian Mufti endorsed Al-Sibsi’s discourse and suggestions, Al-Ahzar’s vehement condemnation in a statement issued on Sunday, August 20, said this: “The provisions of inheritance” in Islam are “categorical and meaningful.”

Egypt: “War on terror” shuts down churches and prayer

Aug 30, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Imagine walking through your village to church to pray during the final days of fasting for the Feast of The Assumption. You find police barricades blocking all roads to the sanctuary. At a check point you see your priest petitioning the heavens. State police forbid your entrance and give the same reasons they always do – excuses well known to Christian Copts. You have no permit to pray and you must stop irritating Muslims with whom you share your village. 

You are accustomed to it. You’ve always been told on the slightest whim that you need a government permit to pray in the church and even inside your home in the village of Al-Furn, and that goes for all other towns across Egypt. Yet no actual law or code exists requiring anyone anywhere in Egypt to have a permit for prayer. Meanwhile, Christians in this little town of four hundred Coptic families live with the familiar weekly scene of neighboring Muslims praying in the street—blocking public transportation and ceasing passage. Complaints are never lodged against them demanding the nebulous “permit.” They are free to do so.

Egypt uses “fatwa” kiosks to combat terrorism or spread fundamentalism?

Aug 2, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

For the past two weeks in Cairo, a resistance movement has been gaining momentum against a recent transgression by Al-Azhar Institute to insert newly constructed taxpayer-funded “fatwa” (edict) kiosks into every subway stop in the city. The trial began in one of the busiest subway stations—overcrowded and overwhelmed with chaos—where The Islamic Research Center under the auspices of Al-Azhar Sunni Institute placed its first kiosk. Acting outside the law that requires permits to construct and install kiosks, the Center plans to install in each underground subway entrance and exit platform a 50-square foot glass and wood cube in which three imams sit and wait for clients to walk inside seeking answers (“fatwas”) to their personal religious questions. 

Identity erasure: Threat to Copts in Egypt

Jul 11, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Westerners dealing with global jihad can heed a warning through examination of the struggles of one of the longest surviving and largest remaining Christian minority populations in a jihadi nation. We see that Islam in the majority is never satisfied until the minority is subsumed entirely by its religious-political system, which includes the Arab/Muslim heritage. 

Covert jihad quietly undercuts the values, principles and customs of non-Muslim cultures through the legislative process, justice system and sometimes brute force. This goes on in Egypt where discriminatory laws, customs and built-in biases deny equal access and block minorities from political power. 
Recently, a bill was proposed in Congress to regulate the civil status of newborn babies by assigning strict guidelines to parents choosing a given name. Consistent with the 2014 Sharia-leaning constitution, the proposal is in line with a current law (Article of Law No. 143) enacted in 1994 and derived from Egypt’s now defunct 1971 constitution (Sadat’s era).

Egyptian police become terrorists: Attack Christianity

Jun 27, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Local police serving the Islamic deep state

At 2 am on Friday, June 16—just 20 days after the Al Minya Coptic bus attack by terrorists from Libya—Christians of Bani Sweef province (Al Minya governorate) faced flagrant degradation of law and order when local police in the small town of Saft Al Kharsa broke into the Coptic Orthodox social services center and desecrated the building. The non-operational three-story center was already shut down by the government for no reason.

Sometime before the police struck, 50 Christian families still in mourning from the Libyan terror attack were granted by the state a special security clearance for bus “victims” to temporarily reopen the building and celebrate a mass there in memory of one child and six adults lost in the gun battle. Soon after, the building reverted to its forced obsolescence.

In the early morning hours of June 16, the Egyptian police forced down the door of the vacated Coptic Orthodox social services building and ransacked the interior. Grabbing up sacred utensils, pictures, holy books, and furnishings to toss in the middle of the road, police then re-padlocked the door and placed guards before the emptied building.

Reflection on Al Minya’s bus attack: How massacre leads to Sharia law

Jun 20, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

The narrow, unpaved road snaking through the desert of Upper Egypt does one thing. It connects visitors from Al Minya, the capital city of the Al Minya governorate, to Bishop Samuel Monastery, a Coptic Orthodox institution. The road with no name was carved out for this purpose in the 12th century. Today, as in the ancient day, only Christians have use for this road. Not a soul dares this trip when the Winds of Kamasin whip up the sands from across the great desert in May and June. The air is unbreathable and the road disappears. 

Traveling the 25-kilometer stretch means a one hour bus ride with no spurs to turn off. One step from the road’s edge could sink a man to his knees. The absence of Bedouin bears out the vast emptiness. Unlike the Sinai, migrants are rarely seen in the Western desert. To be on this lonesome road is to be alone with the Creator. Only the very committed have an interest – man, woman and child. The journey by bus is made once a week.