Panel 1: Testimony from the Region and Background on Indigenous Communities
Cynthia Farahat is an Egyptian political activist, writer and researcher. She co-founded the Liberal Egyptian Party (2006-2008) and served as a member of its political committee. In 2008-2009, she was program coordinator and program officer at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty in Cairo, a multi-national free market think tank. She was a founder of the Masr El-Om (Mother Egypt) Party and was a member of its political committee (2004-2006). She has published in National Review, Middle East Quarterly, and in other publications in both English and Arabic. In December 2011, Ms. Farahat testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the US House of Representatives on the roots of the persecution of the Coptic Christian minority in her native Egypt. She is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and the Center for Security Policy.
Dr. Ashrah Ramelah
Ashraf Ramelah is the founder and President of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization with offices in Italy and the United States. He is dedicated to the Coptic cause and believes that this life’s mission is to speak up for the oppressed Copts who cannot speak up for themselves, hence the name, Voice of the Copts.
When he is not meeting with political figures and policy makers, Dr. Ramelah spends his time travelling throughout the country giving talks about the Coptic issue and explaining to the West the oppression against the Copts in Egypt. Dr. Ramelah was invited to address the European Parliament (2010) and to be the keynote speaker in the Italian Parliament (2011) on the issue of Coptic persecution in Egypt. He has done various interviews with Italian newspapers and appears frequently in the Italian and Arab Media. Dr. Ramelah is a featured author at American Thinker.com, Family Security Matters.com, and Canada Free Press.com.
Dr. Ramelah is well known to the Egyptian government due to his advocacy for the Egyptian Copts as well as for Voice of the Copts’ lawsuit against them on behalf of Muslim convert to Christianity Mr. Hegazy and his family in 2009-2010. Ashraf Ramelah also appears as an entry in the Coptic History Encyclopedia.
Dr. Ramelah, himself a Copt, was born in Cairo, Egypt. At the age of 17, he travelled to Italy to study architecture. He graduated with a doctorate in architecture from La Sapienza – Universita’ Degli Studi di Roma,Italy. His special study is restoration of old monuments and history of architecture.
His career as an architect took him to work and live in Italy, Saudi Arabia, Gabon and the USA. His personal interests are Egyptology and Coptic history in the period after the Arab invasion of Egypt in 651 AD.
Voice of the Copts is dedicated to bringing fair, correct and balanced information to the entire world regarding Copts and Christians in countries with an Arab-Muslim majority.
Dr. Ramelah is managing editor of a website in both English and Italian with the same name
Juliana Taimoorazy is the founder and President of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, an organization that raises awareness about the persecuted church in Iraq and helps Assyrian Christians resettle in Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts and Arizona. Through her activism and media appearances, Taimoorazy has worked tirelessly to promote the cause of Assyrian Christians in the U.S. While volunteering for Catholic Charities, she has mentored young women arriving in the U.S. She has also volunteered with Operation Homefront in Illinois, an organization that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors.
Taimoorazy was smuggled into Switzerland in 1989 to avoid religious persecution in her native Iran. After spending seven days in a monastery in Zurich, she was smuggled into Germany where she sought asylum in the U.S embassy. In 1990 she immigrated to the U.S with the refugee status. As an Assyrian Christian living in Iran, Taimoorazy learned to be multi-lingual at a young age, and is fluent in English, Farsi, and Assyrian. She obtained her Masters degree in Instructional Design from Northeastern Illinois University. In addition to being an entrepreneur, she has also worked as a journalist for a local television station in Chicago. As a child, she would take her sister’s hairbrush and stand in front of the mirror and act as a news reporter – even before she learned how to read and write. She currently is a radio host for Nineveh Radio.
Question and Answer
Paul Marshall: Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide
Paul Marshall is Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, Washington, D.C.
He has spoken on religious freedom, international relations, and radical Islam before Congressional committees, the U.S. State Department, the Helsinki Commission, INS and DHS Asylum Bureaus, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He has also lectured in Canada, England, Israel, Cyprus, Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Greece, India, Switzerland, Spain, Lebanon, Korea, Nigeria, Belarus, Australia, South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
In November, 2011, Oxford University press published his Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide co-authored with Nina Shea
His co-edited work Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion, was published by Oxford in early 2009 and was awarded the Wilbur Prize by the Religious Communicators’ Council and given the “Book of the Year 2009” Award from the Religious Communication Association.
Marshall is the author of the best-selling survey of religious persecution Their Blood Cries Out (1997). In speeches introducing the International Religious Freedom Act in the U.S. Senate, Senator Nickles described the book as “a powerful and persuasive analysis” and an “exhaustive survey,” “which simply cannot be ignored” and Senator Lieberman described it as “the manifesto of the religious freedom movement.”
He is also the General Editor of Religious Freedom in the World (2008), the most comprehensive survey of religious freedom available in English. His Radical Islam’s Rules: the Worldwide Spread of Extreme Sharia Law was released in 2005. Other recent books include Islam at the Crossroads: Understanding its Beliefs, History and Conflicts (2002), and God and the Constitution: Christianity and American Politics (2002).
The Very Reverend Keith Roderick: Strategy for the Future
Father Roderick has served as Secretary General of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR) since 1993. The Coalition is a consortium of over fifty-five organizations working together to champion the rights of minorities living in Islamic countries. Members of the Coalition include Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Assyrians, Armenians, Bahai, Copts, Lebanese, Indonesians, Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Sudanese, Nigerians, and others. He has testified to the Senate and House of Representatives on the issue of religious freedom and human rights concerns of non-Muslim minorities in Islamic countries. He has been interviewed and published articles on minorities in the Middle East for national and international media. Father Roderick continues to work with leaders of the minority communities in the Middle East to promote security and equality.
Formerly he was the Director of Spoon River College in Macomb, Illinois and taught religion and philosophy for fifteen years. He founded the Society of St. Stephen in 1982 that worked on behalf of religious prisoners of conscience and their families in the former Soviet Union. He served as Christian Solidarity International’s Representative in Washington, D.C. until 2009. He served as the Co-Director of the International Task Force, formerly The Task Force on Soviet Jewry, Executive Director of the Sudan Campaign, Co-Chairs the Coalition to Save Iraq’s Christians and Other Defenseless Minorities. Is on the Board of Directors/Advisors of the Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy (Darfur), Religious Freedom Coalition (Washington, D.C.), Institut de l’Europe Libre (Paris), International Christian Union, and Middle East Concern (Cyprus) and International Christian Union.
He is an Episcopal priest of the Diocese of Springfield, presently serving as Dean and Rector of St. Andrew’s Church in Carbondale.
Question and Answer
Congressman Peter Roskam
US Congressman Peter Roskam proudly represents the Sixth District of Illinois in the US House of Representatives and is the Chief Deputy Majority Whip, the fourth-ranking Republican leader in the House. Congressman Roskam serves on the Ways & Means Committee and is the co-chair of the Republican Israel Caucus. Before his election to Congress in 2006, Roskam was a member of the Illinois Senate from 2000-2006, serving as the Republican Whip and Floor Leader. He served in the Illinois House before that from 1993 to 1998.
Congressman Joe Walsh
US Congressman Joe Walsh is a member of the US House of Representatives from the 8th District of Illinois. He has dedicated his profes-sional life to service and advocacy. He has advocated on behalf of a wide range of public policy issues and causes, most notably advancing market-based solutions to education reform and urban poverty. He is a member of the Homeland Security, Oversight and Government Re-form, Small Business committees in the House of Representatives. He is a member of the Republican Israeli Caucus and Tea Party Caucus.
Question and Answer: Rep. Roskam, Rep. Walsh, Paul Marshall
Clare Lopez: Islamic Persecution of Religious Minorities in Doctrine and History
Clare Lopez is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and The Clarion Fund. She is co-author of Shariah: The Threat to America with a strategic policy focus on Iran. She is a member of newly-formed Congressional Task Force on National and Homeland Security with a focus on EMP threat. She is a strategic policy & intelligence expert with a focus on national defense, Islam, Iran, & counterterrorism issues.