Quantcast
Latest Stories

Egypt’s Christians living in fear after Islamist attacks


Egyptian army stand guard around the Republican Guard building in Nasr City in Cairo, Egypt. AP FILE PHOTO/Khalil Hamra

CAIRO—Egypt’s Christians are living in fear after a string of attacks against churches, businesses and homes they say were carried out by angry supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

As police dispersed Morsi supporters from two Cairo squares on Wednesday, attackers torched churches across the country in an apparent response.

“People are terrified; no one dares leave home,” Marco, a 27-year-old engineer, told Agence France-Presse by phone from the central city of Sohag.

The city has become a ghost town, he said, describing an atmosphere of terror where attackers “know where the Copts live” and torched several churches before turning to homes.

The Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic Christian youth movement, denounced what it called a “retaliation war” against the religious minority, which makes up around 10 percent of Egypt’s population.

The group accused Morsi supporters of targeting them in response to Coptic Pope Tawadros II’s support for the July 3 coup that ousted the Islamist leader.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a local NGO, says at least 25 churches were torched on Wednesday and Thursday, and that attackers also targeted Christian schools, shops and homes across 10 of Egypt’s 27 provinces.

Iraq’s Chaldean Christian Archbishop Louis Sako told AFP that one of his community’s churches was among those targeted on Wednesday.

Dangerous volcano

“This is a real disaster,” he said, describing the region as a “dangerous volcano.”

For Marco, the attacks against the churches were not a surprise—Christian religious buildings have been targeted before.

It was the torching of Coptic Christian homes and the looting of their businesses that shocked him.

The attackers were “people chanting pro-Morsi slogans and wearing headbands with the phrase ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ written on them,” he said.

The Maspero Youth Union, which documented abuses against Christians during Morsi’s one year in office, also laid blame for the attacks on supporters of the ousted leader.

“Maspero Youth Union condemns the terrorism Copts are facing now in Egypt after supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi waged a retaliation war against Copts and their churches, homes and businesses,” the group said.

“Copts were attacked in nine governorates, causing panic, losses and destruction for no reason and no crimes they committed except being Christians,” the group said.

Ironic situation

Morsi’s supporters have often accused Christians of supporting President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in Egypt’s 2011 uprising.

Ironically, Christians were also targeted when Mubarak was in power.

On Thursday, the country’s interim army-installed government described attacks on Egypt’s Christians as a “red line” and pledged that authorities would “respond forcefully” to any new attack.

Shortly afterward, the defense minister, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who led the coup, pledged that the military would pay for the rebuilding of the churches attacked on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, Interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi also announced he had met with Coptic Pope Tawadros II to express solidarity in the wake of the attacks.

And state news agency MENA reported that 80 Morsi loyalists had been arrested and turned over to military courts for their alleged involvement in torching churches in Suez province on Wednesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood made its first comment on the attacks on Thursday evening—a condemnation tempered by the assertion that many Copts supported Morsi’s ouster.

“Although some Coptic leaders supported or even participated in the coup, for one reason or another, no such attacks can be justifiable,” the group’s political arm said on its official Twitter account.

 

Authorities to blame

Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad el-Haddad had earlier suggested authorities were to blame.

The government’s promises have so far failed to convince Christians and activists that authorities would prevent future attacks.

“The state must intervene to protect the population. Concrete action is needed after all the big speeches,” said Ishak Ibrahim, an EIPR researcher on religious issues.

He described a “discourse of hatred” against Christians throughout the country, more from the Salafists, the most conservative of Islamists, rather than members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

And he pointed out that most of the attacks had taken place outside the major cities, in areas where security presence is often minimal.

“Families who are too scared to go out to get supplies are waiting for something concrete,” Ibrahim added.

In Sohag, residents remain desperately afraid of what awaits them, with Karem, a local, urging authorities to send security forces to help.

“No one is protecting us!” Karem said.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Cairo , Christian , Egypt , Islamist attack , President Mohammed Morsi

  • kris makati

    daang matuwid, c/o pork barrel.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  2. 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  3. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  4. China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  5. Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  6. PH, HK end bitter row; sanctions lifted
  7. PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  8. Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  9. Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  10. US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  1. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  2. Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  3. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  4. Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  5. 85% of Filipinos love US – survey
  6. 10 US presidents who visited the PH (and what they said)
  7. WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  8. 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  9. 150 Filipino teachers in Maryland to lose jobs, visas
  10. Japan mulls no visa rule for Filipinos
  1. US to China: We will protect Philippines
  2. Japan mulls no visa rule for Filipinos
  3. DFA grants visa-free privilege to 7 countries
  4. China warned: Don’t try to tow away BRP Sierra Madre
  5. Back home in Manila, and feeling out of place
  6. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  7. Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  8. China: PH tarnishing Beijing’s international image
  9. What’s inside BRP Sierra Madre?
  10. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
Advertisement

News

  • Smooth Edsa ride up in 2 years, but…
  • Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  • Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Name names, Lacson told
  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Denims that keep you cool–literally
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Corporate bonds sweeteners
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
  • Marketplace