Islamic law forbids the construction of new churches or the repair of existing ones. The Muslims who attacked the church undoubtedly had that in mind: once it was destroyed, it would stay that way. But if nothing else, the army seems to have calculated that leaving matters there would reward and embolden the Tiny Minority of Extremists who are already galloping to power and influence in post-Mubarak Egypt and could potentially threaten the military’s hold on power.
The military regime in Egypt has attempted to ease interfaith relations by ordering the restorations of an Egyptian church destroyed by Islamist extremists earlier this month.
A group of craftsmen have been dispatched and are working to restore St. Mary’s Church in Imbaba, a suburb of Egyptian capital Cairo.
Rising tensions between Christians and Muslims in Egypt have seen an escalation in violence over recent months. However, the country’s military rulers are looking to calm both sides and have ordered that the gutted church be restored immediately.
Workers have quickly moved in and are hoping to complete work in just three weeks, even though such work would normally be completed in closer to three months.
Despite the urgent way the ruling military have gone about trying to correct the wrong that was done, critics fear that the rulers will struggle to ease interfaith relations. In particular, they are skeptical of the new regime being able to keep peace without resorting to the violent tactics that ex-President Hosni Mubarak used.
The church in question suffered heavy damage through the fire started by Islamic militants, with the entire ground floor of the church left in ruin.
One of Egypt’s largest construction firms has now moved in and will use special chemicals and paint to rescue as many of the church artifacts and paintings as possible.
Malak Gerges was inside the church at the time of the attack, and he reported to Reuters how the Islamist aggressors “dragged me out and threatened and abused me.”
Although Gerges survived the attack, one other attendant at the church was not so fortunate. Rescue workers found his burned corpse as they plied their way through the remains of the church.
Many of Egypt’s Christians, who make up only 10 percent of the country’s population, currently fear further attacks. However, Egypt’s ruling military council has vowed to protect Christians by increasing security around churches.