Egypt – The Plight of Egypt’s Copts – Question in The House of Lords, June 23rd 2011


http://www.copts.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3195&Itemid=1

House of Lords
Thursday, 23 June 2011.
11 am
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Exeter.
Egypt: Religious Minorities
Question
11.05 am
Asked By Baroness Cox
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Egypt concerning the killing of Christians and the attacks on Christian churches in that country, and on the promotion of the safety of all citizens of religious minority faiths in Egypt.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My Lords, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised his concerns about the dangers of extremism and sectarianism in Egypt with the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Tantawi, and with the Egyptian Prime Minister when he visited the country on 1 and 2 May. We will continue to urge the Egyptian Government to create the conditions for pluralist and non-sectarian politics and to establish policies that prevent discrimination against anyone on the basis of their religion.
Baroness Cox: I thank the Minister for his reply. Is he aware that since the January revolution there have been at least 20 documented attacks against religious minorities, including not only the Coptic Christians but the Sufi community, and that in many cases the security forces refrain from intervening effectively, giving rise to concerns that they might actually be condoning the violence? Will Her Majesty’s Government raise with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces the importance of ensuring that the emerging constitution, legal framework and social structures are guided by the principles of equality of citizenship and equality before the law, consistent with the human rights conventions to which Egypt is a signatory?
Lord Howell of Guildford: I can tell the noble Baroness that we are indeed aware of the ugly situation that she describes. Tensions between Christians and Muslims in Egypt had initially eased during the revolution back in February, but regrettably she is right: there has been an upsurge in sectarian violence, including the worst violent clashes between the two communities in early May, when some 15 people died and over 330 were injured. This is obviously a deplorable situation. As for assisting with the emerging constitution, this country has already committed £1.2 million through the Arab Partnership scheme to support the immediate political transition process. That includes projects to build the capacity of government and civil society in developing anti-discrimination legislation, supporting constitutional reform and establishing links between the UK and the Egyptian judiciaries. In addition, the Supreme Council—the transitional Government—has announced that it will draft a new unified law on the construction of places of worship, which is to be equal for both Copts and Muslims, and a new anti-discrimination law to prevent religious discrimination. We are moving in the right direction, but clearly much more is needed.
Lord Janner of Braunstone: I thank the noble Baroness for her very important Question. Does the noble Lord agree that, sadly, this is a serious problem throughout most of the Arab world?
Lord Howell of Guildford: If the noble Lord is talking about a rising intolerance against people for their religious beliefs, he is absolutely right. This is an extremely worrying trend, which we should not only resist but work against most actively wherever it occurs.
Lord Chidgey: Will my noble friend confirm that Article 46 of the previous Egyptian constitution guaranteed freedom of belief and freedom of worship and that the penal code provided for up to five years in jail for exploiting,
“religion in order to promote extremist ideologies”?
Will the Government call on the new Egyptian Administration for these constitutional safeguards to be retained, respected and enforced in their new legislation?
Lord Howell of Guildford: That is certainly the theme of our exchanges and dialogues, and those of my right honourable friend, with the leaders of the Supreme Council. As I said to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, the Government are drafting a new law on the construction of places of worship, which is to be equal for both Copts and Muslims, and a new anti-discrimination law. That will, in a sense, reinforce what went before. As my noble friend appreciates, Egypt is in the process of moving out of the constitutional pattern of the past and, therefore, all the positive laws that come from the past will need to be reinforced and redrafted.
Baroness Berridge: My Lords, in light of the comments of my noble friend the Minister that there is an increase of religious intolerance, would not now be the time for the Government to adopt the recommendation from the Conservative Party’s human rights group’s report The Freedom to Believe that the Foreign Office should appoint a special envoy for international freedom, religion and belief?
Lord Howell of Guildford: That was an extremely interesting report, which my honourable and right honourable friends are certainly studying closely. I cannot make precise promises on exactly how the recommendations will be implemented or whether they will reflect the pattern of our policy evolution, but I fully recognise that my noble friend’s support for this document is right and that it is a valuable study.
The Lord Bishop of Exeter: Can the Minister tell us what advice the 8 June meeting of the FCO human rights panel offered the Foreign Secretary on how the Government might best respond to these recent attacks on religious minorities in Egypt? Will he also say how the Government have responded to any such advice?
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, the answer to the right reverend Prelate’s question is positively and continuously. I know that he appreciates, because he follows these things closely, that we are dealing with a constantly changing situation. We are in constant dialogue through our posts, and indeed through Ministers and officials, with the Supreme Council in Cairo and with Governments in other countries where there are clear discrimination and attacks against religious minorities, including Christian minorities. I think that I have to tell him that the work of the panel and the continuing work of the Foreign Office are moving in the same direction, which is a positive one.
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, in declaring an interest as president of the UK Coptic Association, may I ask the Minister whether he recalls the letter that I sent him on 1 January this year, copied to the Foreign Secretary, detailing the attacks made on services at the Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria, in which some 21 people were killed and 79 injured, even predating the Arab spring? Is it not the case that the campaign of asphyxiation against the ancient churches throughout the whole of the Middle East is something that we need to give much more focus to? We should never miss the opportunity, when pointing the finger at organisations such as the Salafis for fomenting this hatred and violence, to enunciate our support for the creation of a plural society where minorities such as the Copts, who constitute a tenth of Egypt’s population, are properly respected.
Lord Howell of Guildford: I would not disagree with a word of that. I remind your Lordships that the noble Lord, Lord Alton, is second to none in keeping us up to speed with what is happening on this whole front. When he asked me whether I could recall a letter that he wrote on 1 January, I have to be quite frank and say that I recall a mass of letters that have arrived from him almost every day of the week since then. I ask him please to go on writing and reminding us all that this is a very frightening and terrible situation to which we must, both at the governmental and the individual level, give our full attention.

1 Feb 2011 : Column 1306

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, what resources are available within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to champion the issue of religious liberties? In these turbulent times, is the Minister able to give some thought to the plight of the imprisoned Baha’is in Iran; the minorities in the ancient churches, the Chaldeans and Syrianis in Iraq, who have been facing a campaign of asphyxiation; and the Coptic community in Egypt, especially at present following the terrible attacks launched in Alexandria only a couple of weeks ago?
Lord Howell of Guildford: The noble Lord is quite right to begin the catalogue-sadly, it goes on even further than he mentioned-of the persecution of religious minorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth
Office and Her Majesty’s Government are determined, wherever we see such persecution, to make the strongest representations through our posts. The noble Lord mentioned three instances of hideous persecution and I have a list in front of me of four or five more areas of the world where there is direct persecution of religious minorities of a highly intolerant kind. In every instance, personnel in our posts and in the Foreign Office here in London continuously and vigorously pursue our concerns, suggestions and proposals that this intolerance should cease forthwith.

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Universe Column
January 16th 2011.
David Alton

Christmas and the New Year were marked by two bloody and ominous attacks on Christian worshippers in Iraq and Egypt.
On December 30th, in Baghdad, at least two Christians were killed and nine wounded in a string of six attacks on Christian homes. The areas targeted were predominantly Christian areas, and the homes attacked were specifically Christian homes. And, on new Year’s Eve, an even more lethal attack resulted in the massacre of over 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians in the ancient city of Alexandria.

The old year ended and the new one opened with bloodshed that tragically points to attempts to systematically annihilate the ancient churches of the Middle East.

The word “genocide” – not one which should ever be used lightly or for rhetorical effect – is the correct terminology when a campaign sets out to annihilate an ethnic, religious, racial or national group.

A legal definition of genocide is found in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Article 2 defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Consider that definition when assessing first the appalling situation in Iraq – brought home to us by the 31st October attack against the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad in which 58 were killed. At the time of the October attacks in Baghdad the perpetrators also threatened violence against Egypt’s Coptic Christian communities – a threat which came to pass on New Year’s Eve. They have vowed to eradicate Christian believers in the region.

The international community may not yet be willing to recognise these events as part of a genocidal campaign but unless they wake up to the nature of these atrocities it will only be a matter of time before the definitions catch up with the realities. No doubt hand wringing “statesmen” will then claim they had no idea how bad the situation had become.

The violence against Egypt’s Copts is hardly new but it has been intensifying – with barely a murmur of protest.

The Alexandria attack sharply underlines the vulnerability of Egypt’s Christians. The bomb attack outside the al-Qidiseen church (“Church of the Two Saints”) took place as worshippers were leaving a midnight service to celebrate the New Year. It is said that if the Mass had ended two minutes earlier the number of fatalities would have been massive. According to the official figures at least 21 were killed and 79 were injured.

The injured also include eight Muslims. The church and a nearby mosque suffered extensive damage from the blast

Initially the authorities believed a car bomb was used, but now they believe a suicide bomber was responsible. The attack prompted angry clashes between Christians and local Muslims during which the mosque opposite the church was further damaged. The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

The al-Qidiseen church was one of three churches which were attacked in April 2006 by a man wielding a knife, killing one person and injuring 17 others.

The massacre has been widely denounced by political and religious leaders in Egypt, including the Grand Mufti and other Muslims. This is to be welcomed, but the Egyptian Government’s own role hardly stands up to scrutiny or examination. It is alleged that the authorities withdrew their security officials from the vicinity of the church about an hour before the attacks took place.

These attacks are part of a worsening pattern, sanctioned by the authorities, which I have observed since the publication, in 1992, of my report for the Jubilee Campaign, on the discrimination faced by Egyptian Copts. Having also served as honorary President of The UK Coptic Association I have also seen regular reports of the worsening situation. It disturbs me greatly that there seems considerable global indifference to the escalating violence against the Copts.

Egypt’s Copts make up some 12 million from a population of 80 million Egyptians and they face major human rights violations and are being increasingly persecuted. It is hard to believe that this is happening to them in 21st Century Egypt, which prides itself on being a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The events in Alexandria find an echo in the drive-by massacre of churchgoers leaving midnight mass on Coptic Orthodox Christmas Eve on January 6, 2010, in Nag Hammadi. Six Copts were killed and nine others were seriously injured. Later, in Giza on November 24, 2010, the State’s own forces opened fire on peaceful Coptic protesters, worshipping in St. Mary and St. Michael’s Church.

In between those two incidents there were attacks on churches, collective punishment of Copts, abduction and, in collusion with the State, there have been incidents of Coptic minors being forced to convert – an increasing phenomenon. Increasing, too, have been demonstrations, which have been staged over fifteen consecutive weeks, by radical Islamists – demonstrations which have targeted the Coptic Church and its head, the saintly Pope Shenouda.

These demonstrations have been fanned by radical Muslim clerics and the Egyptian media, based on allegations that the church is abducting Christian girls who converted to Islam and locking them up in monasteries, and of stockpiling weapons in monasteries for later use against Muslims, espousing sectarian hatred and violence against the Copts.

On November 18th the US Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that “This kind of rhetoric goes too far and stokes the fire of extremists looking for ammunition to justify violent acts against religious minorities”. USCIRF has placed Egypt on its watch list for religious freedom that requires close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government

The number of violations against the Copts for the year 2010 are not yet published, but, from January 2008 to January 2010, there were at least 52 incidents of sectarian violence or tension—about two incidents a month—which took place in 17 of Egypt’s 29 governorates.

The vast majority of such sectarian incidents were waged by Muslims against Copts, taking the form of “collective revenge”. This springs from an irrational conviction that all Christians should be made to pay for any grievance caused by a random Christian, in no way related to the original cause of the complaint.

According to the US International Religious Freedom Report 2010 published on December 17, “The status of respect for religious freedom by the government remained poor, unchanged from the previous year.”

The killings in Alexandria and Baghdad underline the urgency and gravity of the situation. – and the need for all of us to speak up for the persecuted ancient churches.

A letter to the Egyptian and Iraqi Ambassadors in London, to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, and to your own local MP, urging them to demand protection and security for the ancient churches might help to save lives and prevent the escalation of these traumatic events into the full scale genocide which threatens to unravel.

Letter to the Foreign Secretary:

January 1st 2011.

Rt.Hon William Hague MP.
House of Commons,
London
January 1st, 2011.

Dear William,

First, please accept my good wishes for the year ahead.

Over the Christmas break you will have seen reports of attacks on Christian communities in Iraq and Egypt.

On December 30th in Baghdad at least two Christians were killed and nine wounded in a string of six attacks on Christian homes. The areas targeted were predominantly Christian areas, and the homes targeted were specifically Christian homes. The old year ended and the new one has opened with blood shed that tragically points to the systematic annihilation of the ancient churches of the Middle East.

The appalling situation in Iraq – brought home to us by the 31st October attack against the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad in which 58 were killed – was commented upon over Christmas by Pope Benedict and by Dr.Rowan Williams. At the time of the October attacks in Baghdad the perpetrators also threatened violence against Egypt’s Coptic Christian communities.

That came to pass last night, on New Year’s Eve, in Alexandria. The violence against Egypt’s Copts has been intensifying – with hardly a murmur of protest. Unless urgent action is taken, Egypt’s Copts will be destined to suffer the same fate as Christians in Iraq.

The Alexandria attack sharply underlines the vulnerability of Egypt’s Christians. The bomb attack outside the al-Qidiseen church (“Church of the Two Saints”) took place as worshippers were leaving a midnight service to celebrate the New Year. According to the official figures at least 21 were killed and 79 were injured. The injured include eight Muslims. The church and a nearby mosque suffered extensive damage from the blast

Initially the authorities believed a car bomb was used, but now they believe a suicide bomber was responsible. The attack prompted angry clashes between Christians and local Muslims during which the mosque opposite the church was further damaged. The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

The attack has been widely denounced by political by religious leaders in Egypt. The al-Qidiseen church was one of three churches which were attacked in April 2006 by a man wielding a knife, killing one person and injuring 17 others.

These attacks are part of a worsening pattern which I have observed since the publication, in 1992, of my report for the Jubilee Campaign, on the discrimination faced by Egyptian Copts. Having also served as honorary President of The UK Coptic Association I have also seen regular reports of the worsening situation. It disturbs me greatly that there seems considerable global indifference to the escalating violence against the Copts.

Egypt’s Copts make up some 12 million from a population of 80 million Egyptians and they face major human rights violations and are being increasingly persecuted. It is hard to believe that this is happening to them in 21st Century Egypt, which prides itself on being a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The events in Alexandria find an echo in the drive-by massacre of churchgoers leaving midnight mass on Coptic Orthodox Christmas Eve on January 6, 2010, in Nag Hammadi. Six Copts were killed and nine others were seriously injured. The year end with deadly violence in St. Mary and St. Michael’s Church, in Giza on November 24, 2010, in which the State’s own forces opened fire on peaceful Coptic protesters,

In between those two incidents there were attacks on churches, collective punishment of Copts, abduction and forced

Islamisation of Coptic minors by Muslims in collusion with State Security is also an increasing phenomenon. So, too, are demonstrations, which have been staged over fifteen consecutive weeks, by radical Islamists – demonstrations which have targeted the Coptic Church and its head, Pope Shenouda.

These demonstrations have been fanned by radical Muslim clerics and the Egyptian media, based on allegations that the church is abducting Christian girls who converted to Islam and locking them up in monasteries, and of stockpiling weapons in monasteries for later use against Muslims, espousing sectarian hatred and violence against the Copts.

On November 18th the US Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that “This kind of rhetoric goes too far and stokes the fire of extremists looking for ammunition to justify violent acts against religious minorities”.. USCIRF has placed Egypt on its watch list for religious freedom that requires close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government

The number of violations against the Copts for the year 2010 are not yet published, but, from January 2008 to January 2010, there have been at least 52 incidents of sectarian violence or tension—about two incidents a month—which have taken place in 17 of Egypt’s 29 governorates. These were the scene of violent incidents which were all waged by Muslims against Christians, according to a two-year study by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a reputable NGO, that monitors the situation of freedoms—especially religious freedoms—in Egypt:

http://www.eipr.org/en/report/2010/04/11/776.

The vast majority of such sectarian incidents were waged by Muslims against Copts, taking the form of “collective revenge” owing to an irrational conviction that all Christians should be made to pay for the mistake committed by a Christian in no way related to them.

The second pattern of collective revenge targets Christians who attempt to conduct religious rituals in a new church they build, or in an existing one which they restore or expand, or in a building they convert into a church, or again by holding prayers in an ordinary building or inside the home of one of them.

The situation is rejected not only by neighbouring Muslims, but also by representatives of the State, who refuse the gathering of Christians for prayer in one of their homes, and, according to the EIPR study, they retaliate by arresting the worshippers and questioning them.

Church building in Egypt is still restricted by the contemporary interpretation of the 1856 Ottoman Hamayouni decree, still partially in force, which requires non-Muslims to obtain a presidential decree to build new churches.

In addition, Ministry of Interior (MOI) regulations, issued in 1934 under the Al-Ezabi decree, specify a set of 10 conditions that the government must consider before a presidential decree for construction of a new non-Muslim place of worship can be issued. The conditions include the requirement that the distance that a church may be no closer than 100 meters (340 feet) from a mosque and that approval of the neighbouring Muslim community must be obtained before a permit to build a new church may be issued. Moreover, the State Security often imposes its authority, making the process difficult even after obtaining a presidential decree.

According to the US International Religious Freedom Report 2010 published on December 17, 2010, “The status of respect for religious freedom by the government remained poor, unchanged from the previous year.”

There is no indication that Egypt’s political leadership, or the wider international community, has come to realise the need to address the “Coptic issue.” While the government makes great efforts to present to the outside world an optimistic picture of the situation of the Copts, it does little to address the reality.

Last week President Mubarak gave a speech regarding the laws in front of Parliament for this session. Once again, and for the 6th year running, the long awaited new law to deal with the regulation of church buildings was omitted.

Let me underline the nature of this serious situation by mentioning three recent violations:

1. Firing Live Ammunition at Coptic Protesters

On November 24, 2010, at the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mary and St. Michael’s, in Talbiya, Omraniya district of Giza province, which is still under construction, some 5000 security forces personnel opened fire, used tear gas and hurled stones on men, women, children who were present at the church grounds, in order to disperse them, halt construction and demolish the building. The Copts hurled stones at the forces.

The Coptic crowd, many bearing makeshift crosses, decided to approach the Giza governorate and to protest against what they saw as an unjustified attack against them. They were incensed that the problem had appeared to have been resolved as the governor had sent his secretary to the congregation on the previous evening advising them that the governor has approved the building to be a church.

The clashes resumed in front of the Giza governorate building, where the angry protesters also felt deceived by the governor. They hurled stones at the building facade and at parked vehicles, while security forces opened fire again on them. Some news sites circulated news that security sources explained the unusually harsh response they used against the Coptic demonstrators by claiming the Copts had hurled Molotov cocktails at the Giza governorate headquarters, a claim which eye-witnesses categorically deny.

The clashes resulted in the death of three Coptic men from bullet wounds and a four year old child from tear gas being thrown inside the chapel. More than 79 Copts were injured, suffering mostly gunshot wounds, some severely, and 157 people including women were arrested randomly from the streets. In addition 22 teenagers and children as young as 9-years old were also arrested. The detainees were charged with 14 charges which ranged from demonstrating illegally, carrying white weapons and blocking public roads; to the intentional destruction of public property for a terrorist purpose and the attempt to kill police officials. Such charges carry sentences of 15 years imprisonment.

It transpired that the building had been licensed as a Church-owned-and-operated social services building but the Copts who had for years tried in vain to obtain licence to build a church—Egyptian law and regulations pre-condition almost prohibitive procedures for the licensing of new churches—were using it as a church. The building violation was exposed when they began to add a dome.

The Church Diocese in Giza issued a statement, saying “The Governor of Giza gave instructions to modify the services building to a church building, but a decision by the Chief of the District to halt construction and remove the irregularities angered the people, who congregated next to the building, fearing that the district authorities would cause damage to it, triggered the events and the clashes.”

Some 40 private and human rights lawyers were banned by security officials on orders of the General Prosecutor from attending interrogations of Copts before prosecution.

Injured detainees were shackled to their beds in hospital, or were sent to detainment camps before completing their medical treatment prompting an outcry from Egyptian NGOs.

NGOs in Egypt and abroad condemned the attack, and called on Public Prosecutor to prosecute the security personnel responsible for the death and the injury of Coptic protesters.

November’s events were a serious escalation in the State’s treatment of its Christian citizens. This is not simply about social violence occasioned by the construction of a church, but, according to Hossam Bahgat, EIPR’s Executive Director, “rather security forces opening fire on protesters demanding their constitutional right to worship without arbitrary interference or discrimination.”

Meanwhile the Egyptian Attorney General under pressure by human rights organization and Pope Shenouda, who went into retreat to a monastery in protest, released 133 of the 157 detainees. However, no one was questioned over who was responsible for giving the shooting order.

Human rights advocates reported that this incident exemplified an increasingly prevalent pattern of governmental authorities detaining Copts following sectarian attacks and either holding them without charges or threatening false charges and a police record; the detentions serve as a tool to blackmail Coptic authorities to desist from demanding criminal prosecution of the perpetrators and to dissuade the victims and/or their families from seeking recourse in the judicial system for restitution of damages.

On December 10, in an effort to end any hopes for the Coptic Christians of using the Church of St. Mary and St. Michael’s in Talbiya for prayer services, the Giza Governorate converted overnight a house facing the church into a mosque, less than 100 metres away.

This kind of devious undertaking has often been used by State Security to stop any project for a church, in addition to deploying Muslims in the area to contest the presence of a church in their neighbourhood.

The church premises are now occupied by State Security to make sure that no one prays there, and judging from previous cases the church will remain closed.

The Coptic Church filed a case against the Giza Governorate on the basis that its decision to halt construction of the Church was illegal as the area where the church is built is not subject to any kind of building permissions, being some sort of shanty town:

http://www.aina.org/news/20101129225702.htm
http://www.aina.org/news/20101202210741.htm

2. Muslims Torch Coptic Homes

On November 15 , 2010 the village of al-Nawahid, in Qena province some 290 miles south of Cairo, a Muslim mob of nearly 1000, set fire overnight to 22 houses belonging to Coptic Christians over rumours that 19-year-old Copt Hossam Noel Attallah and a 17-year-old Muslim girl, Rasha Mohamed Hussein had an affair.

They threw fireballs, gasoline and stones at Coptic homes and detonated Butane Gas cylinders. Christian-owned homes were looted and shops were broken into, plundered and burned. Cattle belonging to Copts were stolen, their fields and plants uprooted. There were no reported casualties.

An eyewitness who was himself beaten by Muslims said the mob blocked the fire brigade from reaching the burning homes and one fire engine arrived hours late. He also said that security forces went into the houses of Copts and arrested them.

Copts accused the authorities of severe inadequacy, because although being aware of the incident of the Copt and the Muslim girl, they only stationed three security cars at the entrances of the village. Ra’fat, head of Luxor EUHRO NGO reports that “When the security officers saw the large mobs entering the village from all sides and attacking it, they fled, leaving it unprotected to operations of terrorism, sabotage, arson and looting of Coptic property.” He added that security
forces were only guarding St. George’s Church.

The Chief Prosecutor went to survey the damage but refused to listen to any of the Coptic victims, speak to witnesses who saw the perpetrators or even to register the names of the accused.

It was reported that State Security forced thirteen Coptic families to sign papers stating the fire happened as an “Act of Fate” and was extinguished by security and the village Muslims. A Coptic victim poignantly asked “Have you ever heard of such humiliation?

“Whoever refused to sign was beaten up. We were afraid to be detained by security, so we signed” he added. He confirmed that the police know all of the perpetrators.

As police decided it was an “Act of Fate”, they are not entitled to claim compensation, also none of the Muslim perpetrators were indicted. The Muslim girl was released after undertaking a medical exam which proved that she was still a virgin; the fate of the Coptic young man is unknown:

http://www.aina.org/news/20101116202532.htm
http://www.aina.org/news/20101120134121.htm

The examples of collective punishment of Copts which I have cited were repeated at:

1. Farshout, – where, in November a three day rampage against Copts occurred when 86 Coptic-owned properties were torched, prompted by the alleged sexual assault of a Coptic man on a Muslim girl:

http://www.aina.org/news/20100127220312.htm
http://www.aina.org/news/20091121211751.htm ; and

2, Nag Hammadi, after the Christmas Eve massacre of January 6, 2010, Muslim torched and looted in Bahgoura 43 homes and shops:

http://www.aina.org/news/20100107150122.htm
http://www.aina.org/news/20100110113120.htm;

3.MERSA MATROUH

On March 12 2010, a Muslim mob assaulted some 400 Christians during prayers in the church of the services building affiliated to the Coptic Church in Rifeyah, Mersa Matrouh, under the pretext that the Copts had carried out construction work without permission from the authorities placing a fence around their newly acquired plot of land with a gate that would close a short-cut to the adjacent mosque

The mob, estimated to be between 2000-3000 of Bedouins and fanatical Muslim Salafis, hurled stones at the building. Four priests, the deacons and 400 parishioners were trapped for 14 hours inside the building until Security forces arrived from Alexandria and escorted the 400 terrorised Copts to their homes.

While the Copts were trapped, the mob moved on to other areas not protected by security, vandalizing and torching Coptic homes, shops, businesses and cars in the streets surrounding the services building.

Twenty-five Copts were seriously wounded, including women and children. Eighteen houses, twenty-two shops and sixteen cars were destroyed and burnt down.

The Reverend Matta Zakaria said that “The violence started after the Muslim evening prayer when the Mosque’s Imam, Shaikh Khamees, preached the need to fight the ‘enemies’, and said ‘we don’t want Christians to live among us.'”

Egyptian Security authorities arrested 13 Copts, including 4 minors between 13 and 17 who were later released due to being underage.

The suspects and 9 Copts, faced charges of illegal congregation, destruction of public property, arson and assault. The church pulled down the fence.

Copts, albeit the victims, were arrested as usual to force the church to accept an unfair reconciliation with the perpetrators, who always escape indictment, to get the Copts out of prison:

http://www.aina.org/news/20100313012827.htm
http://www.aina.org/news/20100317224225.htm

You will, I am sure, agree that this situation is grievous and that far more needs to be done to encourage the Egyptian authorities to provide security and protection for its Coptic minority – and to work much harder at promoting religious toleration and respect. I very much hope that you will arrange for an assessment to be made of the deteriorating situation facing Egypt’s Copts.

I am copying this letter to David Howell, William Wallace, and Ambassador Asquith.

With kind regards,

David.