In defiance of those who intended it to be “Al-Ramla Mosque,” and of the local governor who refused to rebuild it where it stood. “Military rebuilding Coptic church destroyed by Muslims,” from Asia News, March 14:
Cairo (AsiaNews) — The Egyptian armed forces have begun rebuilding the Saints Minas and George Coptic Church set on fire by Muslims in Soul on 5 March, sources, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews. Reconstruction began today and is being paid by the government.
“The church will be built on the same location and will be as big as the old one, despite opposition by radical Muslims,” the source said.
Copts welcomed the news, but announced that they would continue to demonstrate in front of Egyptian TV to demand equal rights for Christians, a principle still denied by Egypt’s constitution.
AINA reports that a sit-in at that site has ended, following assurances that 11 Copts detained for breaking a curfew would be released, and the prime minister promised “to begin the rebuilding of the Virgin Mary and Bishop Ibram churches in Ezbet al-Nakhl and re-open all churches that were closed for security reasons.”
“The rebuilding of the church is a sign of good will on the part of the military,” the source said. “Recently, a delegation from al-Azhar University came to visit Christians in Soul to express their closeness to them.”
The torching of the Coptic church in Soul, a town some 30 kilometres south of Cairo, was followed by clashes between Copts and Muslims that caused the death of 13 people with more than 50 wounded. However last Friday, Copts and Muslims, brandishing their respective religious symbols (cross and crescent), gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to show the interfaith unity of the Egyptian people.
According to the source, a positive atmosphere now prevails in the capital as no Christian-Muslim clash has been reported. Nonetheless, fear of Islamic extremism remains high.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is the only organised armed group in the country,” the source said. “Despite internal divisions, they are united in pushing the ideas of radical Islam in the upcoming parliamentary elections”.