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:

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. 

Egypt: Bloodshed on Palm Sunday

Apr 11, 2017 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Egypt’s Coptic Christians suffered another fatal attack on its churches during this morning’s (April 9) Palm Sunday celebrations. Many parishioners were killed and maimed in a dual-church attack during the Palm Sunday services.

North of Cairo, a terrorist bomb struck the Church of Saint George in Tanta claiming the lives of more than 40 worshippers and injuring at least 65 attendees.

Open Letter To President-elect Donald Trump

Dec 24, 2016 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Dear President-elect Donald Trump

My name is Ashraf Ramelah, and I am an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian.  I am the founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a non-profit human rights organization. Egyptian Copts, who are the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, are praying for your continued success. So are the Iraqi and Syrian Christians.

Jihadists strike again, 25 Copts die in Cairo church bombing:

Dec 17, 2016 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Members of the Voice of the Copts community offer sincere condolences to the Coptic families mourning today for the loss of loved ones as a result of Sunday’s (Dec 11) bombing of the Botrossia Church in Cairo that killed at least 25 people attending mass.

We grieve with our brothers and sisters and pray that those responsible for this heinous, cowardly crime will be arrested and made to stand trial. Once again, Christian Copts are made the scapegoat in an ongoing struggle between Egypt’s government and Islamic religious leaders.

Coptic Pope muzzles US Copts in favor of Al-Sisi

Sep 20, 2016 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Egyptian Copts in the diaspora of New York and New Jersey must decide to obey a call by Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Egypt for a NYC rally at the UN General Assembly in support of President Al-Sisi’s speech on September 20. An official statement by the Coptic Church indicated that Bishop Beeman of Nakada and Qus and Bishop Yuanis of Assuit were sent to the US to arrange and promote Coptic crowd support prior to the president’s arrival.

The statement said that “We, all Egyptians loyal to our home land, must welcome the president and strengthen him in all the work he does for the good of Egypt.” Because “the Pope has great interest in the success of this visit,” the message urged that Copts do everything possible to ensure the success of this visit, adding, “It is good for Egypt and all Egyptians.” The statement concluded by saying that “Egyptian leaders of evangelical churches in America demand the same support of their followers and should rally for the president.”

Egyptian youths escape Sharia inferno

Sep 12, 2016 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

Mocking Islam or mocking the prophet of Islam spells doom. In Egypt you will be arrested, have home and property confiscated, and be coerced to “force emigrate” from your town. Then count on a five-year prison term. This was exactly the penalty for four Coptic Christian school boys, ages 14 through 17, and their teacher.

Modernity grazed the 7th century when a lost cell phone turned up in the hands of a sectarian street thug ready for Sharia justice against its owner. The sim card showed a video of a 36-second skit mocking ISIS terrorists praying to Allah. Away from home on a school trip, the boys used their teacher’s phone to record the funny scene they acted out, thinking ISIS was fair game and knowing that Islam was not. Unfortunately for them, the cell phone was lost or stolen and missing for a solid year. Found by Muslims who became offended by the “blasphemy”, the Egyptian courts overlooked the violent retaliation by the gang prompted to attack homes and businesses and instead arrested the boys and their teacher.

Stealth war on American soil began with chaos of 9/11 terror

Sep 11, 2016 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

I grew up in an Islamic country within the Coptic Christian community of Egypt. On September 11, 2001 I was already a free man living between two nation-state democracies – Italy and the USA. I must admit I never looked back. I never again thought of tyrannical rule and persecution – the words and actions of a cruel, irrational dictator and his minions. I escaped bigotry and hatred. I chose a future for myself and left my family and country behind – radical but necessary. I never spoke of my origins thereafter – the persecution Copts suffer. In a sense, I tacitly endorsed Egypt’s official “democratic” image projected to the West.

The horror of 9/11 broke my heart and my silence, giving birth to Voice of the Copts (a human rights organization) as a response to Islam’s expression here in America. Memories of my childhood flooded back, and I was suddenly compelled to speak out for the Copts of Egypt—explain our plight as a warning to America. Unlike the Coptic community of 20 million in Egypt that has no military, no soldiers, and no political leaders, America could and would strike back.  I wasn’t worried about that kind of warfare.

Egyptian judoka Salafi-style: No withdraw, no win, no handshake

Aug 25, 2016 — Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

The ancient Greek Olympiad, the origin of today’s Olympic Games, was held in honor of Zeus. The games were used as a political tool between rival city-states. It was all about victory and the assertion of dominance. The inception of the Olympiad dates back to nearly nine hundred years before the moon god, Allah, whispered his special message into humanity through the angel Gabriel. So, it is not odd that upon completion of the August 12 judo match of the Rio Olympics between Egyptian competitor, Islam el-Shehaby, and Isaeli champion, Or Sasson, that the devout Salafi publicly observed his god by refusing, according to Quranic commandment, to shake the extended winning hand of Sasson, the Jew. 

When the match was over, Shehaby ignored Sasson, following the Quranic verse 2:65 (And will ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: “Be ye apes, despised and rejected”). This was not the case of a sore loser. The devout Muslim was paying homage to Allah. Deference to Allah is why Egyptian Copts are barred (unofficially) from Egypt’s Olympic training camps at an age when children are singled out for athletic talent. Christian family ancestry (the name of one’s great-great-grandfather) or simply the mandatory Egyptian ID card indicating Christianity will shut any candidate out.