Coptic Solidarity in the USA uses libel against Egyptian Evangelical leader Rev. Andrea Zaki in an apparent effort to stop his advocacy for Egypt in the USA

Sent On: 
Thu, 2022-08-25
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Christian Newswire published August 2 a paid defamatory article of Coptic Solidarity in the USA with the title Egyptian Evangelical Leader Reverend Zaki Confirmed as 'Agent' of el-Sisi Government in US.



Coptic Solidarity used this photo in their text but omitted to explain the background of this photo. President al-Sīsī had visited New York, where he had met, among others, with US Evangelical leaders and invited them to visit Egypt. The US Evangelical leaders responded with a visit to Egypt in November 2017, and it was only logical that their main counterpart in Egypt were the Protestant Churches in Egypt, presided by Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī.


There is no “confirmation” of Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki (Zakī) being “an agent” for the Egyptian government in Egypt. The only confirmation that exists is that Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī is a pro-government Egyptian church leader.


Rev. Zakī wrote Dialogue Across Borders “I was never acting on behalf and never officially or unofficially authorized by the President or the government to speak on their behalf. The term lobbying was far from my thoughts. I was never an agent for the President or the government of Egypt. I never received money, or gifts or any rewards, and also I have never been under any pressure, on the contrary the image that was created here in Egypt about my role and also many friends in the United States see that I am a volunteer who supports coexistence and conveys the true image of Egypt, whether negative or positive. This is my position and my role as the leader of the Protestant Church of Egypt,” (email August 21, 2022). 


The reason for Coptic Solidarity’s attacks on Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī seems to be entirely rooted in Rev. Zakī’s radically different views about Egypt and Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt. Coptic Solidarity often presents a bleak picture of the place of Christians in Egypt. They seem not to seriously contemplate the possibility that an Egyptian Christian leader can faithfully be positive about the Egyptian government with motivations that go beyond wishes for favors from the regime. Coptic Solidarity often critiques these Christian leaders and seems to make little effort to engage in dialogue. Their position effectively denies Egypt’s pro-Sīsī Christian leaders an alternative voice in the USA instead of accepting that US officials and politicians can hear different voices and weigh arguments from different sides.


Coptic Solidarity argues that Rev. Andrea Zakī’s registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) prior to this last visit to the USA during which he met with US officials and politicians is “proof” for him being an “'Agent' of al-Sīsī Government in US.”


FARA requires people who visit the USA to lobby with a political agenda to disclose their background.  Registration prior to meeting with US politicians is correct. Rev. Andrea Zakī registered as head of the Protestant Council of Egypt which is also correct. This is, however, not “proof” for the claim of Coptic Solidarity.


Prior to registration Coptic Solidarity critiqued Rev. Zakī for his lobby work for Egypt without FARA registration. An American friend advised him to register with FARA and now Coptic Solidarity uses this registration to accuse him to be an “'Agent' of el-Sisi Government in the US.”


Also, several other allegations in the text seem to be aimed at discrediting Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī. Coptic Solidarity claims, for example, that Africa Intelligence broke the story and that “despite being given the opportunity, Rev. Zakī did not reply to the publication's requests for comment.” Since Coptic Solidarity has been highly critical of Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī for several years and since there was a sharing of information between Coptic Solidarity and Africa Intelligence prior to their publication (Coptic Solidarity, August 1, 2022) it appears that the information in Africa Intelligence came from Coptic Solidarity. Rev. Zakī received an unclear email from a journalist of Africa Intelligence with a question for a telephone interview to which he indeed has not responded since also had never heard of them. We asked the involved journalist on August 3 and 4 for information but he did not respond.


Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī is definitely pro-President al-Sīsī. He can be described as an Egyptian nationalist who believes that speaking abroad positively about Egypt is the right thing to do for all Egyptians, including Christians. This belief is not shared by Coptic Solidarity, which is their good right, but this does not justify publishing falsehoods about him.


It is obvious Rev. Zakī’s political views about Egypt are very different from those of Coptic Solidarity. We made an overview of his views based on summary translations from Egyptian media as published in Arab-West Report/Dialogue Across Borders. For this overview see our 21-page report “A Response to Coptic Solidarity regarding Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki.”


It is very common in the USA for interest groups to lobby US politicians. Coptic Solidarity hired Lindsay Rodriguez Griffin, not a Copt but a professional US lobbyist, relying on a well-established professional network within the U.S. and around the world. “As a consultant, I tailor my work to meet the specific needs of each client.”


Coptic political activists have differed for decades with Christian church leaders in Egypt on the situation of Christians in Egypt. This is most sharply seen when Egyptian pro-government Christian leaders travel to the USA and present US church leaders, politicians and government officials with different views from those of Coptic political activists in the USA. Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī is no exception.


One major area of contention is Coptic asylum seekers coming to the USA. Economic circumstances in Egypt are not great resulting in many Egyptian youth wanting to leave Egypt for a rich Western country. Entering the USA as an economic migrant is very difficult and thus persecution stories mix with personal economic interests. Coptic Solidarity favors a more generous policy for asylum claimants. This is their good right but untrue (individual) persecution claims need to be challenged since they contribute to polarization, not dialogue and understanding.


Coptic Solidarity, of course, has the right to lobby in the USA but it would demonstrate ethics if they would refrain from efforts to discredit others with false arguments. Why should Congressmen, and in particular members of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus and International Religious Freedom Caucus in Congress, not meet with Egyptian church leaders who express views that are different from those of Coptic Solidarity? These leaders present their perspective based on their experiences in Egypt which, of course, should be heard by Congressmen and many others.


It would be so much better for the cause of Christians in Egypt if Coptic Solidarity and Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī would engage in dialogue instead of hurling accusations at Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī. Dialogue between these two parties will unlikely result in any agreement but at least it could possibly create some understanding for the different positions both parties take in.



August 25, 2022

Cornelis Hulsman, Editor-in-Chief Dialogue Across Borders