The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has added Egypt to its watch list of countries of particular concern (CPC) in its latest annual report.

It’s the first time Egypt has made the list and joins 13 other countries, including Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. Chair of USCIRF Leonard Leo said in a media release that severe religious freedom violations have increased dramatically in Egypt since last year’s report.

“Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice. Consequently, USCIRF recommends CPC designation for Egypt,” he said.

The ACL has been concerned about the persecution of Christians and other minorities in Egypt for some time and has made representations to the Australian government on behalf of the Coptic community about the issue.

In an interview with Bishop Suriel, the Bishop of Melbourne on the March 15, 2011 edition of the Political Spot he said the situation was still hostile since the military took over control of the country (see youtube video above right that was uploaded on Bishop Suriel's blog)

“I’m calling upon the Australian people to support the Human Rights of the Christians in Egypt; to be aware of what is happening and the persecution and the suffering of our people, who are a very important group in the Middle East; the largest Christian group in the Middle East of twelve million people that are suffering and being persecuted because of their faith,” he said.

“The whole international community needs to cry out about this so that pressure can be put on the Egyptian authorities to give the full Human Rights to the Christians in Egypt,” he said.

To read a media article about the inclusion of Egypt on USCIRF’s list of countries of particular concern, please click here.