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Attacks on Copts in Egypt

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  • Mike Wingert
    Again, let us remember our Jacobite brothers in Egypt (who don t have the luxury of fighting among themselves). The enemy is the one who attacks God s Church.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 17, 2006
      Again, let us remember our Jacobite brothers in Egypt (who don't
      have the luxury of fighting among themselves). The enemy is the one
      who attacks God's Church. Let us remember all parties in our

      Mike Wingert


      ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AP) -- A man fatally stabbed an elderly Coptic
      Christian and wounded at least five other worshippers outside
      churches Friday, provoking about 600 Christians to demonstrate
      against what they saw as government indifference.

      The Interior Ministry said the assailant, Mahmoud Salah-Eddin Abdel-
      Raziq, was "psychologically disturbed," but the protesters blamed
      the government of President Hosni Mubarak for what they called a
      sectarian attack on Christians, who number about 10 percent of
      Egypt's 72 million people.

      "If the people who were responsible for el-Kusheh and Moharrem Bek
      had been held to account, this would not have happened," said Munir
      Naguib as he stood next to the hospital bed of his friend Michael
      Pissada, 22, who was recovering from wounds to his arm.

      He was referring to Muslim-Coptic clashes that killed 22 people in
      southern Egypt in 1998 and four people in Alexandria last year.

      While the el-Kusheh case did go to court, many Copts scoffed at the
      sentences as far too light, and nobody has stood trial for the
      Alexandria clashes.

      Numerous worshippers said there was only one police guard outside
      the three churches where the assailant struck on Friday morning in
      this Mediterranean port, which is Egypt's second largest city.

      In a rare move, the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition
      party, endorsed the Christian protests, accusing the Interior
      Ministry of failing to protect churches adequately.

      "The Interior Ministry's resources are stretched thin because it is
      preoccupied with chasing the Muslim Brotherhood," said senior
      Brotherhood official Saber Abou el-Fotooh, who spoke to church
      officials at the scene of one attack.

      The police detained five Brotherhood members in the Cairo area
      Friday, but gave no reason.

      Different accounts
      There were conflicting reports over the number of assailants and the
      number of wounded in the attacks.

      The Interior Ministry said: "This morning a citizen attacked three
      worshippers inside the Mar Girgis Church in al-Hadhra with a knife
      and then fled and went into the Saints Church, where he attacked
      three other worshippers and again fled.

      "While he was trying to enter another Mar Girgis church, he was
      stopped and arrested by police," the ministry said, adding that one
      of the wounded died later.

      Police said three men were arrested after simultaneous attacks at
      three churches. A bid to attack a fourth church was foiled by the
      police. One victim died and 16 others were wounded, said the police
      officials, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not
      authorized to speak to the press.

      The discrepancies could not be immediately explained. However, the
      government has often played down incidents that could be perceived
      as sectarian so as not to inflame tensions between the Coptic
      minority and Muslim majority.

      The semi-official Middle East News Agency identified the person who
      died as Nushi Atta Girgis, 78.

      The ministry said the assailant Abdel-Raziq works in a sweets
      shop. "He suffers from psychological disturbances," the statement

      In the protest by some 600 Copts outside Saints Church later Friday,
      the demonstrators held banners reading: "Until when?" and "Stop the
      persecution of Copts in Egypt."

      The protesters chanted: "Hosni Mubarak, where are you?"

      Blood could be seen on the church steps.

      The attack came on what is Good Friday for many of the world's
      Christians. But the Copts celebrate Easter a week later.

      "We are trying to calm the situation after many of our youth started
      protesting," said Father Augustinos of the Mar Girgis church. "We
      want to live in peace and tranquility, but these are people who had
      their family members killed or wounded. We are doing our best."

      An official of Mubarak's National Democratic Party, Abdullah Osman,
      said party officials and legislators had gone to the churches
      concerned "to explain that the attackers are insane and that the
      people should not blow things out of proportion."

      Witness: Youth held two machetes
      A second victim, Kuzman Tawfiq, 69, said he had finished praying in
      Saints Church and gone outside.

      "Suddenly there was a youth holding two machetes and shouting: 'Oh,
      the prophet of God! Oh, the prophet of God,'" he recalled, speaking
      while suffering the aftereffects of anesthesia.

      The assailant slashed Tawfiq in the stomach, forcing him to have
      surgery to stop the internal bleeding.

      Asked who the assailant was, Tawfiq replied: "He was supported by
      the Islamic groups, for sure."

      A doctor, 26, who saw the assailant attack three people outside
      Saints Church said the police sentry did not want to intervene.

      "I asked the soldier guarding the church to fire on the assailant to
      stop him. The soldier said: 'There is no reason to open fire. I
      don't have orders to open fire,'" the doctor recalled, speaking on
      condition of anonymity.

      Egyptian Christians generally live in peace with the Muslim
      majority, but occasional sectarian clashes do occur.

      In October, Muslim militants attacked churches in the Moharrem Bek
      area of Alexandria protesting the distribution of the DVD that they
      deemed offensive to Islam. Four people were killed in weeklong riots.

      Christians complain that they suffer job discrimination,
      particularly in the high ranks of the civil service where positions
      such as general, provincial governor and faculty head are almost
      invariably held by Muslims.
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