The New York Post (free; registration required) reports that the US State Department has begun to investigate charges that “hard-line” Islamic employees in the US Embassy in Egypt have been engaged in routinely denying visas to Coptic Egyptians — i.e., Christians — for some time.
|Hundreds, possibly thousands, may have been wrongly denied visas, sources said.|
|In a recent meeting organized by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), top State Department officials were told that these employees, who conduct prescreening interviews and translations, appear to have unusual influence over a process that is supposed to be controlled by Americans.|
|“This is a widespread problem that we have been aware of for some time. Now, however, there are people stepping forward and are making formal complaints,” said Father Keith Roderick, head of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights, who attended the meeting.|
The news story did not say where the meeting took place or how Rep. Wolf came to organize it. There is no mention of it on his website, nor is there — at the moment — any other related story on Google news.
However, the stories have been out there for awhile. This is from a Coptic site, dating from November of this year:
|If you are a Coptic Christian, try to apply for a visa at the American Embassy in Cairo, once you pass through the gate, you will feel as if you are inside a mosque in Afghanistan. Posters of “Islam is a religion of Peace”, “Islam means peace”, “The life of Muslims in the US”, “Islam is the fastest growing religion in the US”, in addition to images of American mosques are posted everywhere in the American embassy in Cairo.|
|If you are not a Muslim, try to apply for a job at the US embassy in Cairo, you will wait and wait forever without a response, because – according to an embassy employee – your application will be shredded in pieces and thrown in the garbage by the director of the embassy HR, who is a veiled fanatic Muslim woman.|
|Over the past few years, the number of Coptic employees at the US embassy in Cairo has declined significantly, while the number of Muslim employees has increased significantly.|
|And according to visa applicants, who are Copts, embassy consular officers sometimes ask if they are going to the US to talk about the Muslim persecution of Christians in Egypt!|
|It happened again today. A Coptic applicant for a visa was asked if she had intended to go to the United States in order to talk about the persecution of Christians in Egypt! She was then denied the visa. (The name of this individual and the details on this incident are available upon request). If the US has declared a war on terror, it ought to look into its own backyards, and at its gates overseas. We believe that an investigation is long overdue over the behavior of some ‘fanatical’ and “extremist” employees at the US embassies overseas. How do such individuals pass a background check?!|
Good question. If you want email a query regarding the subject, here’s a good place to start: email@example.com — Obviously, the email address for the US Embassy in Cairo. Makes you wonder though. Who exactly reads these emails first? The American foreign service officers or the Egyptian employees?
Whoever has more information on
- the meeting called by Representative Wolf,
- or the “investigations by the State Department,
- or what role “The Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights” plays in all this,
please share what you know and we’ll put it up.
Hat tip: Larwyn. Thanks!
From my experience with embassy types, if you email the US Embassy in Cairo, you can expect to receive a templated response. Send more than one email, each answer, if you get even one, will be similar if not exactly the same. The Marine Guards are the only non-bureaucratic hacks in the building.
Is it American policy to hire locals, even in hostile lands?
As far as I know it is. However, I would make the distinction between “American” policy and that of the State Department. The latter use such a broad sieve it’s amazing we’re not undermined more often than we are.
PhilippinePhil has it about right: bureaucratic hacks. I don’t think State can be cleaned up by anyone and if the SecState is seen as being unfriendly to the President’s agenda he/she is beloved by the foreign service…witness Colin Powell.
From the cited article:
A Coptic applicant for a visa was asked if she had intended to go to the United States in order to talk about the persecution of Christians in Egypt! She was then denied the visa. I wouldn’t doubt there is a desire not to let certain information be revealed.
I will comment on this later.
always on watch:
one person was denied a visa who wanted to come here to donate a kidney to a relative.
Nice guys, eh?
About 90% of the forms I get from Egypt are from Copts. This is hardly surprising at all given what my friends in Jersey City have told me.
If one speaks out in favor of the Copts in Egypt in NYC Muslims demand the name of your source. I have been threatened for advocating human rights for Copts and Assyrians in NYC.
Most work at the counselate is done by locals. However actual interviews are done by Americans.
Getting the paperwork in order is done in the USA. Egypt provides good marriage and birth certificates. Every document is required to be translated so there should be no need for local intervention on family based forms.
Assylum cases are an entirely different matter.
It is sad what is happening at the American embassy in Cairo.
But it is understandable because it is the State Department which is openly hostile to American policy (especially under a Republican administration).
I’ll pray for my Coptic brothers in Egypt.
Keep up the good work Dymphna.
I did speak with a senior level staffer and it apparently is true.
The locals are doing pre interview screening and that is not the practice elsewhere.
The forms I work with are family based . They are prepared with translations in the USA . If the job is done well there is zero need for prescreening.