Sat Nov 20, 2010
CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt on Saturday angrily dismissed complaints from the United States concerning religious freedom in its key Middle East ally, saying that Washington has no right to hand down judgments.
'The report is rejected on principle because it has been issued by a party which has no right to made such an evaluation,' the foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement in reaction to a US report on religious freedom.
'Egypt is only concerned with what emerges from parties linked to the United Nations,' the Egyptian spokesman said.
The annual International Religious Freedom Report, released on Wednesday by the US State Department, carried a sharp complaint about the status of religious freedom in Egypt.
'The status of respect for religious freedom by the government remained poor, unchanged from the previous year,' the 2010 report said.
It singled out minority groups such as Christians and members of the Bahai faith, saying they 'face personal and collective discrimination, especially in government employment and their ability to build, renovate, and repair places of worship.'
Furthermore, members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood 'remain subject to arbitrary detention and pressure from the government,' the report said.
It was the second time in as many days that Cairo has expressed rare and harsh criticism of Washington.
On Thursday it accused the United States of meddling in its affairs after the US administration called for foreign observers to monitor the November 28 parliamentary election in Egypt.
Tensions have been mounting ahead of the polls, and the Muslim Brotherhood has accused the authorities of arresting hundreds of its members since it announced on October 9 plans to field candidates in the election.
Egypt does not recognise the Bahais who consider Bahaullah, born in 1817, to be the last prophet sent by God -- a direct conflict with Islam, the religion of most Egyptians, which considers Mohammed to be the last prophet.
Coptic Christians, who make up between six and 10 percent of Egypt's 80-million-strong population, frequently complain of discrimination and sectarian attacks.