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story.lead_photo.caption U.S. Rep. French Hill (left) poses Thursday with the icon and plaque he received from Coptic Solidarity President George Gurguis (center) and other Coptic Solidarity members. - Photo by Frank E. Lockwood

Coptic Solidarity honors Hill's work

WASHINGTON -- An organization that defends Egypt's Christian minority honored U.S. Rep. French Hill on Thursday for his work on behalf of the persecuted church.

Coptic Solidarity presented the Republican from Little Rock with its 2018 Leadership Award "for his leadership in Congress in support of Coptic equality and religious freedom for all Egyptians."

Hill, R-Ark., received the award at the group's annual meeting in Washington. He also held an icon honoring 21 Coptic Christian martyrs who were slain by ISIS in Libya.

Shortly before Christmas, Hill introduced a bipartisan resolution "expressing concern over attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt."

In it, he urged the Egyptian government "to end the marginalization of Copts in Egyptian society and make a legal example of any perpetrator who persecutes Egyptian Christians."

An estimated 10 percent of Egypt's 95 million residents are Christians. The vast majority of them belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Their houses of worship have been targeted by terrorists in recent years.

"Copts actually face a tremendous amount of persecution and obstacles in their daily life," said Dr. George Gurguis, Coptic Solidarity's president. "Our churches are being closed arbitrarily." New churches can't be built without government permission.

Hill, he said, has been "a consistent supporter" of the Egyptian church.

In an interview, Hill called religious freedom "a fundamental tenet of democracy and ... American foreign policy."

Central High pupil sings at D.C. game

A Little Rock Central High School student sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Nationals Park on Friday night before the the game between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies.

A light rain was falling as Tania Kelley, 14, took to the field to sing.

She and her family were welcomed by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, a fellow Arkansan and part owner of the Washington Nationals.

Thousands of fans stood as the soprano paid homage to America. They cheered as she hit the final notes.

Tania didn't worry about forgetting the lyrics.

"I know the words by heart. I've been singing the national anthem for a long time now," she said.

Tania was at the Governor's Mansion in April for a reception highlighting the partnership between Arkansas 4-H and the Congressional Award program.

Slater was there. So was Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.

At some point that evening, Tania sang the Etta James classic "At Last," and the crowd was impressed.

Several weeks later, she learned that she'd been invited to Washington to sing at the ballpark.

Her trip to the capital coincided with this year's Congressional Award medal ceremonies.

Tamara Kelley said music brings her daughter joy.

"She literally has been singing since she was about 18 months old when we first heard her sing a tune. She's been in the church choir, the community choir in Maumelle, school choirs. She just has a love for singing," she said.

Bowles moderates broadband caucus

When the Senate Broadband Caucus held its forum last week on "Agriculture and Broadband for Strong Rural Communities," it asked Elizabeth Bowles of Little Rock to moderate the event.

Bowles, the president of Aristotle Inc., is chairman of the Federal Communication Commission's Broadband Deployment Advisory Commission.

She was joined by officials from the FCC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Deere & Company, makers of John Deere machinery.

Bowles told the audience that Little Rock has great broadband access but that rural areas surrounding it aren't always as fortunate.

"Rural America is very close to the urban centers," she said. "It's not very far from the urban core, but it might as well be in the middle of nowhere, literally and figuratively, because it is not getting the care that it needs."

The event, held on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center complex, attracted several broadband caucus members, including senators from Minnesota, North Dakota and West Virginia.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, a Republican from Rogers who also serves on the caucus, said agriculture is crucial for Arkansas and all the other states represented.

"When you get out in our smaller communities, I don't care where you're at ... [agriculture's] not 25 percent of the economy. It's probably 90 percent of the economy, so it is so, so very important for rural America," he said.

The Natural State is an agricultural leader, but is playing catch-up on Internet access, he said.

"Arkansas is Number 1 in rice. They grow a bunch of everything -- soybeans, corn, cotton -- you name it. But we're 48th in broadband, so that's something that has to be fixed," he said.

Planning to visit the nation's capital? Know something happening in Washington, D.C.? Please contact Frank Lockwood at (202) 662-7690 or flockwood@arkansasonline.com. Want the latest from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Washington bureau? It's available on Twitter, @LockwoodFrank.

SundayMonday on 06/24/2018

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  • GeneralMac
    June 25, 2018 at 9:56 a.m.

    Great to see an Arkansas House member supporting Christians being persecuted !

    What did Nancy Pelosi do ?

    What would Clarke Tucker have done?

  • GeneralMac
    June 25, 2018 at 10:01 a.m.

    CORRECTION.................Great to see French Hill recognized for speaking out against persecution of Christians.

    Did Nancy Pelosi also speak out ?
    Would Clarke Tucker have spoken out ?

  • TimberTopper
    June 25, 2018 at 10:50 a.m.

    fake, it as good to see him speak up for those people in Egypt, maybe he should have spent as much time and effort for the people in Arkansas.

  • GeneralMac
    June 25, 2018 at 11:23 a.m.

    Would Clarke Tucker have taken the same stance ?

    Or would he have talked out of both sides of his mouth by saying............" I personally am opposed, ..BUT ..I don't feel I should tell others what to do "

    ( a parody of his stance on abortion )

  • GeneralMac
    June 25, 2018 at 11:25 a.m.

    TreeTrimmer..........what people in Arkansas are having their churches burned down and can't get govt approval to re-build ?

  • BoudinMan
    June 27, 2018 at 8:06 a.m.

    I was wondering what French Hill was up to in D.C. He's been helping all those people in Egypt. Hey, Frenchie, I'm sure if you looked hard enough you could find some people here in AR to help. But, you were also busy trying to take health care away from millions, and holding a pep rally about it. 11.6.18

  • mozarky2
    June 27, 2018 at 8:18 a.m.

    11-6-18, BM?
    Is that when we write the obituary for the dimocrat party?

  • TimberTopper
    June 27, 2018 at 9:02 a.m.

    Princessmac, if you are wanting your religious feelings toward any law to be made the law, maybe you should consider moving to one of those countries that are run by a religion. If you are of that ilk then you are certainly not the average American, or a real American. We still believe in the separation of Church and State. Off of the top of your head, can you name anything Hill did that helped the average man, woman, and child in Arkansas? Now don't go looking at his web site for an answer.

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