Empowering the Copts
Emad Mekay writes in Al-Ahram:
The United States has been quietly funnelling millions of dollars from its annual aid budget to Egypt to groups coming from the country’s Coptic Christian community as part of an effort to “empower” the religious minority, according to a review of recent US congressional documents.
Most of the money, hidden in a little-noticed part of the multi-year aid programme, has been channelled through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), part of the US State Department.
Up until July last year, the programme had benefited more than 40 Coptic non-governmental organisations at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
Egypt is already struggling to contain tensions between its Muslim and Christian populations, which are simmering over issues including a spate of recent conversions from Islam to Coptic Christianity.
The most detailed account of how the US has been silently targeting Egypt’s Christian community with humanitarian and political assistance came in a written document submitted to Congress last year by James R Kunder, USAID assistant administrator for Asia and the Near East, the most senior officer overseeing aid to Egypt at the agency, which has its headquarters in Washington.