Archive for the Egypt Category

Religious Tensions in Egypt

Posted in Egypt with tags , , , , , on June 17, 2008 by Mike

The Middle East Times has an interesting article about the increasing religious tensions between the country’s Muslims and its Coptic Christians.

Still, to say that Egypt’s Christian Copts — 16 million in a country of 81.7 million — have coexisted peacefully with the Muslim majority may be stretching the truth. While the two communities have largely gotten along over the years, there have been periodic clashes, some of them violent, some of them leaving many dead and wounded.

Ever since the Muslims became the majority in Egypt around the middle of the first century, Egypt’s Christians and followers of St. Mark the apostle and evangelist, known as Copts, found themselves relegated to the position of second-class citizens. Their situation began to improve in the early 19th century under the stability and tolerance brought to the country under the dynasty of Mohammad Ali.

Yet, despite Egypt’s generally more moderate approach to religion when compared with other Muslim countries — such as Saudi Arabia, for example — strife between the country’s Muslim and Christian communities will periodically make the headlines.

Ahmad al-Aswani, an Egyptian writer, posted on June 7 an essay on the liberal Web site Aafaq.org, in which he sheds light on a series of escalating attacks on members of the Copts community.

“What is happening to our Coptic brothers … is no longer a matter of sporadic incidents,” writes al-Aswani. “It is open season on Egypt’s Copts,” said the Egyptian writer in a dispatch translated from Arabic by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“It is no longer a matter of sporadic incidents,” said al-Aswani.

Read the rest of the article for examples of the violence that Muslims have committed against Christians.

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7 Suspects in Attacks on Christians Released

Posted in Egypt with tags , , , , on December 21, 2007 by Mike

The Assyrian International News Agency is reporting that 7 Muslims who were arrested in the wake of Muslim attacks on Coptic Christians in a town south of Cairo, Egypt, were release just two days later.

The attackers had hurled stones and set fire to several shops, smashed windows of a Coptic church and damaged two cars in the early morning hours Sunday in Isna, about 560 kilometers (350 miles) south of Cairo.

Police detained 15 people suspected of taking part in the attacks. The seven released were believed to be the main suspects, the official from the prosecutors’ office said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The grounds for the release of the seven, the fate of the remaining detainees or what this meant for the investigation was not immediately clear.

Muslim Mob Destroys Christian Stores

Posted in Egypt with tags , , , , on December 18, 2007 by Mike

The Christian Post is reporting that a mob of angry Muslims attacked and destroyed numerous Christian-owned stores in a city south of Cairo, Egypt.

At least 13 shops were destroyed and the windows of a church damaged, according international news agencies. Although the motivation behind the destruction remains unclear, Reuters claimed the riot started after a Muslim girl was suspected of having sexual relations with two Christian boys.

This was followed by another report that a Muslim woman had her veil forcefully removed by two Coptic Christians in a car parking lot on Saturday, reported the Canadian Press.

Currently, police have upgraded security and imposed a curfew on the town.

Coptic Christians account for 10 percent of the total population of Egypt and often face persecution from the Egyptian government. They claim that their rights in particular are being curtailed through requirements such as needing a license to build a church whereas Muslims can build mosques anywhere as they please.