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Protecting and promoting the human rights of discriminated minorities in Egypt

Duration: November 2016 – November 2018

Regions/countries: Egypt

Minorities: Ahmadis, Baha’i, Bedouins, Coptic Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Nubians, Shi’a Muslims

What is this programme about?

This project aims to contribute to securing the human rights of religious and ethnic minorities, and to strengthen the civil society movement raising awareness and advocating for the human rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Egypt – particularly outside of Cairo.

This project replicates and strengthens aspects of previous projects which have been assessed as very effective in the Egyptian environment: multi-dimensional approach to minority issues, maintaining a strong focus on minority issues.

Why are we delivering this programme?

Religious and ethnic minorities in Egypt are particularly vulnerable to discrimination. Religious minorities have suffered decades of sustained discrimination and intermittent violence, and ethnic minorities have experienced long-term marginalization.

Egypt’s population is over 85% Sunni Muslim, the other 10-15% is made up of religious minorities. While Coptic Christians form the largest minority group, other Christians, Baha’i, Shi’a Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Ahmadis and other smaller minorities also have lived in the country for generations.

Around 200,000 Nubians of the Upper Nile have experienced decades of economic marginalization following the destruction of large areas of their traditional lands through the development of the Aswan dam. The 160,000 Bedouins in Sinai, too, have been subjugated through government policies of political, military, economic and social exclusion.

Human rights violations take distinct forms for different minorities; however, they ultimately derive from the same sources: discriminatory legislation, exclusive understandings of the Egyptian identity and a strain of religious extremism hostile to both non-Muslims and Muslims of other sects.

What are we doing?

  • Providing a three-month online training for 30 activists on international and national human rights standards and mechanisms relating to religious minorities.
  • Delivering two intensive face-to-face trainings for 15 human rights activists targeted to specific opportunities and/or threats relevant to the fast-moving situation in Egypt.
  • Giving ten small grants for civil society organizations and activists to conduct local and national advocacy campaigns; deliver media campaigns to counter discimination; support organizational development and security measures; and sustainability; and/or develop and submit shadow reports.
  • Setting up a network of organizations to monitor discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities.
  • Publishing and launching a report highlighting priority and emerging human rights issues facing minorities in Egypt.
  • Providing legal support to five to ten victims of discriminatory laws or practices, or legal cases related to their minority rights work.
  • Support eight Egyptian activists to attend and advocate at the United Nations. We will help them raise international awareness about the discrimination facing minorities in Egypt and increasing international pressure on Egyptian authorities.

Find out more

MRG has extensive experience of supporting and strengthening civil society organisations and activists in Egypt to protect religious and ethnic minorities. This has included delivering a range of projects: Challenging discrimination against religious minorities in Egypt (2011-2013), Promoting Freedom of Belief and challenging religious discrimination in Transition states – Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan (2012-2015), Protecting minorities and promoting freedom of religion in MENA (2013-15) and Building Capacity: Minorities, Diversity, Drama, Development (2014-2017).


Photo Credit: Carsten ten Brink

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