Update: Another Christian was let in…see note at the bottom.
I was informed of a press conference that Muslim Brotherhood were hosting today, August 9, 2013, at the National Press Club in Washington DC. The conference is to be followed by a protest tomorrow in Freedom Plaza on August 10. I headed over this morning, but I was running a bit late and was concerned about getting in.
As I approached the building, I saw some folks protesting against the Muslim Brotherhood, and I stopped to take a photo. I asked in Arabic first if I could and promptly met Magdi Khalil, executive director of the Middle East Freedom Forum, who insisted on taking me into the Coptic fold here in DC.
I eventually excused myself and went upstairs. The man at the door of the press conference was very nice and kept smiling and as I went to sign in, he asked me my name and who I was. I introduced myself, saying my name was Amira Mikhail, and that I just recently came to DC. As I leaned down to sign in, he apologetically interrupted me and explained that I could not go in.
“The press conference is closed,” he explained, and asked me take a look. I did not get a good look at all, and saw a few people standing at the back but there was plenty of room for me to squeeze in the back. I asked if I could and he said no. There was a sign saying doors had closed, but as I had approached the room to see “how full it was,” someone did open up the door to let me in.
Anyway, I left and went back down to Mr. Khalil and I told him that it was full and was not let in. He asked me if they had known my name and he told me it was because my last name is “Mikhail.”
“They know who the Copts are…didn’t he ask your name? I mean, they did not let me in, although they know me well.”
I had not for one moment considered this as an option, I have never been remotely clued in to such things actually. However, moments later, another Coptic gentleman came downstairs saying that he was kicked out (or refused entry- I did not catch what he said exactly) as well. He was a friend of Mr. Khalil and so he might have been well known as well.
I left as I did not intend to wait around for however long to ask questions as people left. I do not know if they did not let me in because of my name or if it was actually full. I see it going both ways although I honestly can not imagine they would turn people away because they were full. They are doing everything they can to get coverage and share their narrative. I suppose I will not know unless we did a social experiment out of it.
(Just heard via @minaism that another Christian with a fairly Christian name was let in)