The Tar Pit

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Brownback, Wolf to hold press conference on attacks against Egyptian Copts

There's an opportunity tomorrow to apply U.S. pressure on the Egyptian government for the release of detained blogger Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman. Seliman is being held without charge for posts critical of Muslim riots against a Coptic church in Egypt last month in which a nun was stabbed.

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), and U.S. Copts Association President Michael Meunier will be holding a joint press conference to address anti-Coptic violence in Egypt. I've been in contact with the offices of all three gentleman to provide information about Mr. Seliman and inquire as to whether his case would be raised in the press conference tomorrow. The assistants with whom I spoke were definitely interested, but uncertain about whether the Seliman case would be addressed. I left what information I could for them to investigate further, and pointed out the safety and free speech concerns of Egyptian bloggers observing the situation. If Egypt is to achieve internal reform, then the internal voices of reform require protection.

Here are the phone numbers:

Senator Brownback: (202) 224-6521

Congressman Wolf: (202) 225-5136

Michael Meunier: (202) 737-3660

Here's the press release

Contact: U.S. Copts Association

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Phone: 202.737.3660

Washington, D.C. (11/2/05)- At the behest of the U.S. Copts Association, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Sam Brownback will hold a joint press conference expressing the senator's and other U.S. officials' concern over the recent anti-Coptic violence in Alexandria, Egypt. The press conference, to be held Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Room 430 of the Dirksen Senate building at the U.S. Capitol, will include addresses by Sen. Sam Brownback, (Judiciary-Constitution subcommittee chair, Appropriations Committee member), Rep. Frank Wolf (co-chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and chair of the Appropriations-Justice and Commerce Subcommittee) and U.S. Copts Association President Michael Meunier.

The U.S. Copts Association will also at the press conference release a comprehensive report detailing the recent escalations in anti-Coptic violence in Alexandria, Egypt. The report, compiled from prominent international news sources, U.S. Copts correspondents in Egypt, and actual victims of the Alexandria attacks, will be the first comprehensive and authoritative account of recent anti-Coptic hate crimes including a 10,000 person siege against a Coptic church and the stabbing of a Coptic nun.

The press conference will express the Helsinki Commission's and U.S. lawmakers' concern over the recent escalations in anti-Coptic violence. Although Copts--Egypt's indigenous, pre-Arab Christians have long been targeted by militant Islamists, several extremist newspapers have incited weeks of mob violence against Coptic houses of worship, businesses, and homes. News of the violent attacks has alarmed members of Congress, Senate, and other advocates of human rights and religious freedom in the Middle East.

"The violence to which Copts in Egypt have been subjected is nothing but state-sanctioned terrorism against the Coptic minority," said Michael Meunier. "U.S. Copts is pleased to collaborate with Senator Brownback, Congressman Frank Wolf and other lawmakers to combat international terrorism wherever it may be."

"The violence facing Egypt's Coptic community is no different from other terrorist acts," Meunier added. "The prevalence in the Middle East of extremist media and government officials indifferent to human rights is indeed a matter of utmost importance to U.S. lawmakers and international observers. We hope U.S. Copts' and the Commission's combined efforts will spur Egypt toward much-needed media and human rights reforms."

Senator Brownback can be e-mailed here, but writes:


In order to serve you better, my office recently went through a communications systems upgrade. Your views and concerns are important to me, so I ask for your patience as I and my staff continue to transition to a new system which will make communications with me by e-mail or mail faster and more effective.

As the transition continues, it may take up to four weeks before you receive a response to your question or concern. If you need immediate assistance with an urgent matter, please call my office at (202) 224-6521 to be directed to the appropriate party who can assist you. Again, I thank you for your patience, and I look forward to hearing from you about the issues that matter to you!

Additional contacts for Senator Brownback:

Washington, D.C.
303 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6521 Fax: (202) 228-1265

Garden City, KS
811 North Main St. Suite A
Garden City, KS  67846
Phone: (620) 275-1124 Fax: (620) 275-1837

Overland Park
11111  West 95th Suite 245
Overland Park, KS  66214
Phone: (913) 492-6378 Fax: (913) 492-7253

1001-C  N. Broadway
Pittsburg, KS  66762
Phone: (620) 231-6040 Fax: (620) 231-6347

612 S. Kansas Ave.
Topeka, KS 66603
Phone: (785) 233-2503 Fax: (785) 233-2616

245 N. Waco, Suite 240
Wichita, KS 67202
Phone: (316) 264-8066 Fax: (316) 264-9078

Virginia's 10th District residents can email here.

More contact numbers for Congressman Wolf:

Herndon Office
13873 Park Center Rd Ste.130
Herndon, VA 20171
Ph: (703) 709-5800 or (800) 945-9653 in state
(703) 709-5802 fax

Winchester Office
110 N. Cameron St.
Winchester, VA 22601
Ph: (540) 667-0990 or (800) 850-3463 in state
(540) 678-0402 fax

Washington Office
241 Cannon Building
Washington, DC 20515
Ph: (202) 225-5136
(202) 225-0437 fax

Around the blogosphere, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has been invaluable in raising the profile of Mr. Seliman, with posts here, here, and here, to link to just a few.

From Fay at Iraqi in America:

Please, please, please sign the petition to free Egyptian blogger, Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman.

I personally don't agree with much of what he wrote in his blog. But, I believe in free speech. I'm also certain the Egyptian authorities are using him to make an example of him to silence most of the Egyptian blogosphere that has become very popular internationally in a very short time.

Super Fun Power Hour:

Bloggers in the United States and in other free countries need to speak out and support our brothers-in-cyberspace, we risk being caught by the boss for our online activity, they risk their lives.

Gateway Pundit has a big round up and offers an intriguing suggestion:

Maybe, someone needs to contact Safia al-Suhail, the daughter of slain human rights activist Talib Al Suhail and the current Iraqi Ambassador to Egypt.

Also blogging on Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman are Screenshots..., Heretical Librarian, Somah.

11/13: A bounceback link to Dennis Dale at Untethered for linking here and helping to get the word out on this story. Thanks Dennis.