Will the Islamophobia never end? “Copts Protest Church Attack in Egypt — Church Attacked Again,” by Mary Abdelmassih for AINA, February 18 (thanks to Assad Elepty):
Hundreds of Copts rallied on Sunday evening against the torching of St. Georges church in Sarsena on Friday (AINA 2-16-2013),
as well as the escalation of destruction of churches by Muslims.
Several Coptic rights groups organized a march from Shubra, a densely
populated area in Cairo, to the High Court building in downtown Cairo,
to “demand justice” as the organizers said.
the Sarsena church be rebuilt and the perpetrators be prosecuted, in
addition to the assailants of previous attacks on the churches during
the last two years since the ousting of Mubarak. They also demanded an
end to the customary “reconciliation” meetings forced on Copts by the
authorities, in which Copts lose all their rights.
“We are going
down to the streets for the church torched in Fayoum,” said Yvonne
Mosad, PR of Maspero Coptic Youth Union, “and against the customary
reconciliation meetings held every time something takes place against
the Copts. We want the application of the law.”
demonstrators included a large number of children accompanying their
parents. A large number of liberal Muslims joined the demonstration.
marchers chanted “Maspero, Maspero,” calling for the completion of
their march to the State radio and TV building in Maspero, the site of
the massacre that killed 24 Copts and injured over 300 (AINA 10-10-2011).
to officials, the attack on St. George’s Church was triggered by a
Muslim family living next to the church, who complained about the sound
coming from the church during mass on Fridays and Sundays. The Muslim
family has been living next to the church for 15 years and had not
complained previously. During the attack on Friday, Muslims voiced the
real issue, which was the church is “an unlawful neighbor to the Muslims
who live adjacent to it and must therefore be moved.”
security chief said in an interview on Al-Hayat independent Egyptian
channel that the torching was not of a church but a small room annexed
to the Coptic community center and the church wanted to build it without
a license. He also said that what was torched was a single wooden
chair. But the church said it is not a community center but a proper
placed a security guard at the gate of the church. The guard prevented
the media from filming the church and prevented journalist and local
parishioners from entering the church.
“reconciliation” meeting was held on Saturday evening, which many found
to be unfair and humiliating, like all such previous meetings forced by
authorities. The meeting was attended by seven Copts without the
presence of the clergy, four of whom were chosen by the Muslims, the
Muslim neighbor family that complained, four Muslim arbitrators and the
heads of the security and Chief of Detectives in Tamiya.
church was attacked once again by Muslims While the meeting was in
progress. Molotov Cocktails and stones were hurled at the church while
Muslims shouted “We do not want the church.” Some Muslims climbed up the
church to completely destroy the remains of the wooden dome.
of the Coptic delegation to the “reconciliation” meeting, Mr. Gameel
Abraham, left in protest of the unfairness of the terms of
“reconciliation” set for the Copts. He noted that the losses suffered by
the church were destruction in parts of the dome and the windows, as
well as seats which were torched, icons, images and saints’ relics.
the meeting the neighboring Muslim family wanted to classify the church
as a community center but the Copts rejected this. Police records
classify the building as a church.
Among the conditions in the
agreement imposed on the church, which the Coptic delegation was forced
to sign, is that it is not allowed to restore the church to its original
height before the attack, but it should remain the new height after the
attack, not exceeding 3 meters. The church was compelled to agree to
build a 17 meter long, 30 centimeter thick wall from inside the church
area, filled with soundproof material, and to build another wall, 5
centimeters thick, between the church and the Muslim neighbor, also
filled with sound proof material, to absorb the sound of hymns emanating
from the church. In Addition, it was decided that the roof of the
church be covered with soundproof material as well as the tiling of the
roof of the Muslim neighbor, at the expense of the church, to further
diminish the “noise” coming out of church during its semi-weekly mass.
The church was forced to agree not to use the spare area outside to
increase the size of the church and not to use it as a kindergarten, but
to use it as a store room.
There was no mention of who will be
responsible for paying for the losses of the church and whether the dome
and the Holy Cross on top of the dome that were destroyed by the Muslim
mob will be replaced.
No one responsible for the church assault has been arrested.
What a surprise.