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Egypt's Christian leader lashes out at government

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.wral.com/news/political/story/11392010/ Posted: August 4 Egypt s Christian leader lashes out at government By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press CAIRO
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 7, 2012

      Posted: August 4
      Egypt's Christian leader lashes out at government

      By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press

      CAIRO — The acting leader of Egypt's Coptic Church on Saturday
      criticized the new government sworn in by Islamist President Mohammed
      Morsi for what he said was an "unfair" representation of Christians that
      ignores their rights as citizens.

      The comments by Archbishop Pachomius, who represents the majority of the
      country's Christians — some 10 percent of a population of 82 million —
      were published Saturday in the independent daily Al-Shorouk.

      They follow pledges from Morsi to reach out to Copts and women in
      forming a new government and presidential team, in order to reassure
      them it will not be dominated by Islamists. The new Cabinet sworn in
      Thursday had five members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and two other
      Islamists but only two women, including the Coptic minister in charge of
      the scientific research portfolio.

      Pachomius told Al-Shorouk the Cabinet was unfair because it
      underrepresented Christians. "It is unfair to Copts," he said. "We had
      expected an increase of Copts' representation in the new government,
      especially after increasing the number of portfolios to 35."

      In the outgoing government, Copts held two posts in a 30-member Cabinet.
      It was a rate that was kept in most previous governments, with Coptic
      ministers holding small portfolios or ones dealing with non-strategic

      But the archbishop said that with the increase in posts, the community
      had expected no less than four Coptic ministers in the new government.

      In remarks to another daily, Tahrir, Pachomius described the scientific
      research post as only "half a ministry," telling the paper: "We reject
      the new Cabinet."

      Morsi's new Cabinet has come under criticism from many, including women
      and youth groups, who felt underrepresented and saw the new team as
      lacking a significant break with the past.

      The ultraconservative Salafi groups, who backed Morsi's bid for the
      presidency and who had won around 25 percent of the seats in the
      now-dissolved parliament, also complained they were not consulted and
      declined to take part in the government after they were offered only one
      ministerial post.

      The concerns of the Coptic minority have risen with the rise of
      Islamists to power because they fear their rights may be curtailed and
      that they could become targets of extremist Muslim attacks.

      Local groups as well as the United States had urged Morsi to send
      reassuring messages and form a broad coalition government.

      Just as Morsi took office, sectarian violence erupted in a village near
      Cairo, forcing the whole community of Christians in the village to flee.
      An argument between the local laundry worker, a Christian, with a Muslim
      client over a burnt shirt set off days of tension and a violent
      confrontation that left one Muslim dead.

      Many Muslims in the village of Dahshour, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south
      of Cairo, went on a subsequent revenge rampage, driving the Christians out.

      "There is clear persecution of Copts as of late," Pachomius told
      Al-Shorouk. He was lamenting the eviction of nearly 100 families from
      Dahshour, where their properties were damaged and authorities held no
      one to account.

      Morsi had appealed to the Christians to return to their village, saying
      justice would be meted out against the perpetrators of violence. But he
      dismissed the violence in Dahshour as an "individual" act that does not
      amount to sectarian violence.

      "This was an individual incident and its origin is not about Muslim and
      Christian, and it happens every day. It was blown out of proportion," he
      said Friday. Morsi's spokesman denied Saturday there was forced eviction
      of Christians.
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