If dhimmis don’t remember their subservience, they will be made to remember it. A Coptic question has been killed in Egypt in yet another episode of the ongoing campaign of harassment of the indigenous Christians there. The report comes from Compass Direct:
An Egyptian Christian was killed and two others seriously injured Monday when another confrontation erupted between an armed military contingent and the staff of a Coptic Christian center for handicapped children near Cairo.
Local sources confirmed to Compass that shortly after 10 a.m. on January 5, about 300 soldiers from the Second Unit Army Camp located along the Cairo-Suez highway approached the adjoining farm site of the Patmos Center.
Using a bulldozer and other construction equipment, the military blocked the Patmos Center’s main entrance, “piling heaps of stones in front of the existing gate,” one source reported. With armed soldiers blockading the road leading to the center, several meters of wall on either side of the gate were knocked down.
The center’s staff workers rushed out to try to stop the demolition, exchanging a hail of stones and bottles with the soldiers. Some of the Patmos workers then moved onto the Suez highway, stopping traffic in a sit-in protest against the military action.
Some minutes later, a fast-moving bus came off the highway to the adjacent service road, careening directly into the crowd of staff surrounding Bishop Botros, the Coptic Orthodox cleric directing the center.
Although Bishop Botros managed to escape from the bus’ path, 13 of his staff were struck down. Staff member Kirilos Daoud Lam’iy died at the scene. Two other Coptic Christian men, Shehata Nakhla and Hany Sa’ad, were seriously wounded and hospitalized. Another 10 were injured.
During the incident, a Coptic nun identified as Sister Ra’ous was also beaten and injured by soldiers, who broke out the windshield and back window of her car.
Although security police are reportedly searching for the bus driver, Coptic sources claimed that the army had spirited him away. Military officials contend that the driver had simply lost control of the vehicle, but church sources accused army officers of ordering the driver to run over the bishop and his staff.
Patmos staff workers contend that the army deliberately provoked violence by forcibly closing the center’s front gate, claiming that another entrance would be opened through a side wall.
But army officials declared they are simply implementing a new law introduced last January by the Defense Ministry, ordering that all constructions along the Suez highway be at least 100 meters from the road. In contrast to most similar regulations, the decree was made retroactive.
Built 10 years ago, the Patmos Center’s front wall stands 50 meters from the highway. Ironically, the army barracks’ own walls are also 50 meters from the road, and scores of other buildings along the road are even closer.
“If this law is applied to everyone, we have no problem with it,” a Patmos Center administrator told Compass last May. “But if it’s not, then we have to ask, ‘Why just apply it to us?'”
According to one Cairo journalist, security police blamed Bishop Botros yesterday for the escalating tensions.
“Bishop Botros keeps continuously provoking his military neighbors, and he doesn’t want to get on good terms with them,” security officials told the journalist. “The Egyptian military is unaccountable, as everyone knows, and they can do whatever they want. Bishop Botros knows this, so he should not be so provocative.”
The seven-year conflict over the Coptic-owned Patmos Center has been described by local church sources as a personal feud between Bishop Botros and Maj. Gen. Hussein Tantawi, the Egyptian defense minister.
A long-standing member of President Hosni Mubarak’s cabinet, Tantawi suffered international embarrassment for his direct role in the army raids against Patmos in 1996 and 1997. The attacks inflicted more than $200,000 in damages to buildings and walls, as well as causing orchards to be uprooted and livestock to be slaughtered. Although Patmos staff members have been beaten, injured and even arrested for resisting military orders many times since then, yesterday’s death was the first fatality.
The Patmos Center filed and won a lawsuit proving that the army was responsible for the major damages inflicted in 1996 and 1997. But a follow-up indemnity case to recover compensation remains stalled in the courts.
Reportedly Pope Shenoudah III of the Coptic Orthodox Church met with Bishop Botros on Monday night, although so far no comment has been issued by any church spokesman regarding their meeting or the latest Patmos Center incident.
Three Coptic Christian brothers began the Patmos Center as a land reclamation project, initially renting the site from the Egyptian ministry of agriculture.
Formally purchased in 1995, the center houses mentally handicapped children in a thriving farm environment where they help raise animals, fruit and vegetables and share in other agricultural work projects. The staff includes Coptic Orthodox priests and nuns, together with trained lay personnel.