The Egyptian parliament defends Copts against the Salafist threat

02/20/2012 17:26
EGYPT
The Egyptian
parliament defends Copts against the Salafist threat
A parliamentary committee overrules an eviction order against
eight Coptic families from the village of Sharbat (Alexandria) issued by a
pro-Salafist village tribunal. On 27 January, 3,000 extremists attacked
Christians because of false accusations against a Christian man. Moderate
Muslims call for anti-discrimination legislation.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – The Egyptian parliament cancelled the eviction of eight
Coptic families from the village of Sharbat, el-Ameriya District in Alexandria.
Led by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, the village tribunal had issued the
expulsion order on 1 February. Since then, a parliamentary committee has
investigated Salafist
anti-Coptic violence set off by false accusations laid against a young Christian
tailor
. Yesterday, the parliamentary committee ruled the decision by the
local tribunal to be null and void. It also asked the government to compensate
the families whose homes and businesses were torched, and called on police to
find and arrest those who carried out the attack.

 

According to Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Church, the
investigation shows that moderate Muslims want to defend Copts against the
threats of Islamist parties.

 

Mohamed Sadat, son of the late Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, headed the
commission. “He asked the government to compensate families victimised by the
violence,” the clergyman said. “He stressed that Egyptian Christians must be
respected.”

 

“Sadat also said that an anti-discrimination law was urgent to defend
Christians such attacks, which often go unpunished.”

 

On 27 January, some 3,000 Salafists attacked the village of Sharbat and set
fire to Christian homes and businesses. The attack was provoked by claims made
by some Muslims that a Christian tailor, Mourad Samy Guirgis, had “illicit”
pictures of a Muslim woman on his mobile phone.

 

After their attack, the Salafists turned to the village tribunal, which is
controlled by Muslim extremists, demanding the eviction of 62 Christian
families, i.e. the village’s entire Coptic population.

 

No one has yet brought forward any evidence against the young Coptic man and
his family, but on 1 February, the tribunal had Guirgis arrested. It also had
his and other seven Coptic families evicted as well as their assets seized. The
accused was eventually released on bail last Wednesday.

 

The Islamist victory in the country’s recent elections have raised deep fears
among Christians and moderate Muslims. Together, the Muslim Brotherhood and
Salafist won 73 per cent of seats or 358 out of 498.

 

However, in order not to lose supports, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and
Justice Party, has tried on several occasions to reassure religious minorities
about their future, saying that they will enjoy equal rights.

 

Boosted by their electoral victory, Salafists have instead continued to
describe Christians as “infidels”, promising to throw them out of the country.

 

Sources told AsiaNews that anti-Coptic statements and slogans appear
every day on TV and radio as well as online.

 

Anti-Christian violence has been reported elsewhere in the country. On 12
February, some 2,000 Salafists attacked the Church of St. Mary and St. Abram,
setting fire to the home of parish priest, and various other building belonging
to the Coptic community, in the village of Meet Bashar, Sharqia province, about
50 km north-east of Cairo. (S.C.)
www.asianews.at

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