The New York City Bar Association sponsored an interesting panel this week on “Religious and Ethnic Minorities in the Middle East.” The panel discussed the current plight of minority groups like Copts, Kurds, Baha’is, and Jews. Ashraf Ramelah, Founder and President of the Human Rights organization “Voice of the Copts,” began by discussing the Coptic community in Egypt. Ramelah highlighted recent attacks on the Copts and expressed concern for their future during this period of transition. He stressed the importance of fair and unbiased news regarding Copts, something he said has been lacking in Egypt for some time.
Anthony Vance, Director of U.S. Baha’i Office of External Affairs for the National Spiritual Assembly, highlighted the dangers faced by the Baha’i community in Iran. Vance insisted that much of the Iranian population has been desensitized by media propaganda and the lack of a free press. He discussed ways that the United States, and the international community as a whole, could help Baha’is and other oppressed minorities in the Middle East, the most important being use of the media and internet to stop the spread of misinformation.
Abe Greenwald, Senior Editor of Commentary, discussed the Kurdish population in Iraq. He explained that although the overwhelming majority of Kurds are Muslim, there are Christian and Jewish Kurds as well. He spoke of Iraq’s long history of exploiting Kurds. Although the Kurdish community is relatively safe now, they face serious threats once the American military leaves Iraq. Read more