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Viewing cable 10CAIRO233, A/S POSNER ENGAGES WITH GOE, ACTIVISTS ON NAGA HAMADI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10CAIRO233 2010-02-23 09:09 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO0743
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #0233/01 0540947
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 230947Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0359
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000233 
 
SIPDIS 
FOR DRL AND NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/02/23 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KIRF SOCI EG
SUBJECT: A/S POSNER ENGAGES WITH GOE, ACTIVISTS ON NAGA HAMADI 
KILLINGS 
 
REF: 10 CAIRO 163; 10 CAIRO 153; 10 CAIRO 141; 10 CAIRO 59 
09 CAIRO 1556 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Margaret Scobey, Ambassador, State; REASON: 1.4(B), 
(D) 
 
1. KEY POINTS 
 
 
 
-- (C) In January 12-14 meetings, A/S Posner urged the GOE to hold 
accountable those responsible for the January 6 Naga Hamadi 
sectarian killings, and to issue additional statements of 
condemnation. 
 
 
 
-- (C) Senior Interior Ministry and MFA officials said the 
perpetrators would be tried and convicted.  They attributed the 
attacks to Upper Egypt's culture of revenge killings for "honor 
crimes," such as a November 2009 rape of a Christian girl by a 
Muslim man. 
 
 
 
-- (C) The Legislative Affairs Minister feared a Unified Places of 
Worship law could exacerbate sectarian tensions.  The Minister of 
Population and Families called for educational reform to promote 
religious tolerance. 
 
 
 
-- (C) Activists criticized the GOE for not preventing the attacks, 
and for issuing insufficient condemnation. 
 
 
 
2. (C) A/S Posner urged GOE officials to hold accountable those 
responsible for the January 6 sectarian killings in order to break 
the cycle of sectarian violence (ref D).  He stressed the 
importance of credible prosecutions, and urged the GOE to issue 
additional public statements condemning the attacks. 
 
 
 
------------------------------------- 
 
MOI and MFA Stress "Vendetta Culture" 
 
------------------------------------- 
 
 
 
3. (C) Interior Ministry State Security Director Rahman said 
residents of Upper Egypt are "limited in their culture and 
education," and often react violently to what they perceive as 
"honor crimes," such as the November rape of a Christian girl by a 
Muslim man in the Upper Egyptian town of Farshoot.  He asserted 
that in response to "honor crimes," there are often attacks in 
Upper Egypt, but the violence only attracts attention when Muslims 
target Christians.  He said that feuds and vendettas between 
families can continue for generations. 
 
 
 
4. (C) Deputy Foreign Minister Wafaa Bassim said that Upper 
Egyptians maintain a tradition of revenge killings, and that the 
January 6 shootings were a response to the Farshoot rape.  She said 
the GOE would try and convict the Naga Hamadi perpetrators.  Deputy 
Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights Wael Aboulmagd said 
that the People's Assembly and the quasi-governmental National 
Council for Human Rights would send fact-finding missions to Naga 
Hamadi. 
 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
Minister Shehab Pessimistic about Legislative Solution 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
 
 
5. (C) Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shehab said the GOE needs 
to punish the perpetrators.  He contended that the Interior 
 
CAIRO 00000233  002 OF 002 
 
 
Ministry is conducting a serious investigation.  Shehab said that 
Egyptian Muslims and Copts have lived together for many years, and 
he hoped that peaceful coexistence would resume. 
 
 
 
6. (C) Minister Shehab said that a Unified Places of Worship Law 
would not be a "magic solution" to sectarian tensions.  Shehab 
asserted that although he personally favors passing such a law, it 
would have a negative effect on Muslim-Christian relations.  He 
contended that Christians would protest any GOE rejections of 
church building requests, and Muslims would react badly to GOE 
approvals.  Shehab opined that President Mubarak's immediate 
approval of four to five church building requests would send "the 
right signal" following the Naga Hamadi killings. 
 
 
 
----------------------------------------- 
 
Minister Khattab: Education is the Answer 
 
----------------------------------------- 
 
 
 
7. (C) Minister of Population and Families Mushira Khattab 
underscored that civic education in schools stressing Egyptian 
identity over religious faith is needed to combat hate speech and 
intolerance.  She noted her ministry plans to send the Prime 
Minister such an education proposal, as the issue affects families. 
Khattab said the GOE has previously promoted reconciliation, and 
then assured the public that "everything is ok."  She called for 
consistent action to promote religious tolerance.  Regarding 
identification documents, she opined that the GOE should allow 
identification documents for Bahai'is to state "Baha'i" in the 
religion field, or order dashes in this field for all Egyptians. 
(Note:  Per ref E, following a January 2008 court decision, the GOE 
has begun issuing identity documents for Bahai'is with a dash in 
the religion field.  Previously, the GOE would only issue documents 
stating the bearer's identity as Muslim, Christian or Jewish.  End 
note.) 
 
 
 
----------------------- 
 
Civil Society Reactions 
 
----------------------- 
 
 
 
8. (C) Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Executive Director 
Hossam Bahgat said the GOE failed to prevent a predictable attack. 
He asserted that the GOE should have been aware of rising sectarian 
tensions in the Naga Hamadi area over the previous two months.  He 
attributed sectarian violence to a culture of impunity resulting 
from a lack of convictions in recent years.  Bahgat called for 
improvements in the educational system to promote a culture of 
tolerance. 
 
 
 
9. (C) Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Director-General 
Bahey Al-Din Hassan said he expects "exponentially increasing" 
sectarian violence as the GOE did not hold anyone accountable for 
violence against Copts in 2009.  He criticized the GOE for not 
acknowledging the killings as sectarian.  Afro-Egyptian Human 
Rights Organization Director Engi Haddad blamed the GOE for not 
issuing sufficiently strong statements in response to the killings, 
and asserted the killings illustrated the GOE's inability to 
protect its citizens. 
 
 
 
10. (U) A/S Posner cleared this message. 
SCOBEY