Egyptian asylum seekers to UK up in 2011, report says

The number of Egyptians applying for political asylum in the UK tripled in 2011 compared to the year before, Al-Ahram newspaper said, citing a report issued by the UK Home Office.

Al-Ahram reported 254 Egyptians applied for political asylum from January to September 2011, according to another statistical report. Out of 90 Egyptians who applied for asylum in the UK in 2010, only 31 were accepted.

An Egyptian Federation of Human Rights report previously said nearly 93,000 Coptic Christians have left Egypt since 19 March.

Naguib Gabriel, head of the organization, attributed the emigration to hard-line Salafi groups seeking to apply Islamic law, deny Copts senior government posts and reduce incoming tourism. He blamed attacks on Coptic churches and the government's failure to bring attackers to justice.

Coptic author Kamal Zakher said the numbers in the report were exaggerated and that it is illogical to blame the rise in emigrants on the 25 January revolution.

Christians form nearly 10 percent of Egypt’s population. Egypt's largest Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, stresses Christians' right to the presidency and accepts them as members in its political party.

In the 1990s, Islamists frequently sought political asylum to escape violent crackdowns by the former regime.

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