Thursday, 8 August 2013
In the recent weeks and months there has been an escalation of attacks against Christians in Egypt, with unfounded, dangerous, and unlawful incitement emerging from various fringe Islamist leaders spurring on more violent acts and illegal behaviour that continues to injure and claim the lives of many Egyptian Christians.
A number of Egypt-based human rights organisations, with Amnesty International UK, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), have spoken out regarding attacks on Christians since the ousting of the former president, expecting similar acts in the coming period if these matters are not sufficiently addressed.
Most recently a violent attack on the Church of St George was followed by the raising of an Al Qaeda flag on its premises while congregation members were locked inside the church building. Churches across Upper Egypt including Minya, Asyut, and Luxor have suffered violent and destructive attacks and serious vandalism, with Christian homes and businesses also set alight. Callers to current affairs programmes on certain television channels, using hate speech, have rallied for the attack on, and eradication of, Christians and Churches. These acts and threats all contribute to a very real risk upon the life of every Christian, especially in the increasingly polarised and inflamed climate in Egypt. As a result of these threats, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II has suspended weekly public events out of concern over potential attacks on congregations.
At a time where attempts are being made to move Egypt into a more unified state, and where there is opportunity for collaboration and reconciliation, we are instead witnessing, once again, a polarised society in which unprecedented acts against Egyptian Christians are being carried out without fear of reprisal.
Imbalanced media coverage depicts scenes of violence in one part of the community as victimisation, while ignoring or labelling the savage attacks against Christians, on what is developing into a daily occurrence, as ‘sectarian’.