02/15/2013, 00.00
EGYPT
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Activist: Increased discrimination and persecution of Christian Copts

More than two years after the Maspero massacre, the families of the 27 victims still seeking justice. The courts sentence Copts rather than prosecute military officials. For Mina Magdy, spokesman for the Maspero Youth Union, all Egyptians are victims of the justice system in the hands of the army and Islamist establishment.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - "The Coptic Christians continue to be victims of attacks and harassment by not only radical Islamists, but also the state. Christians were already being persecuted at the time of Mubarak, but after the Jasmine Revolution and the rise the power of Islamists attacks against the minority have increased",  Mina Magdy, 27, of the Maspero Youth Union, a human rights organization that brings together Christians and Muslims tells AsiaNews. Born after the Jasmine Revolution, since October 9, 2011 the movement has been fighting for justice for the families of the 27 Coptic Christians killed during the Maspero massacre.

The young man speaks of continuing injustices against the Christian minority, some of which are at the limits of absurdity. In recent weeks, the sentencing to three years in prison of two young Christians, Michael Farah and Michael Shaker, on charges of 'stealing' a machine gun from an army truck during the massacre of Maspero has made headlines. According to the judges, they used the gun to shoot against their own friends. However, video and eyewitness accounts show that the two attacked the armoured vehicle in an attempt to stop the carnage of the military.

"We denounced this to the media - Mina says - because the Court is against us. Nobody has the right to two people sentenced to three years in jail on seemingly illogical accusations based on partial investigations."

The Maspero massacre, however, is just one of many cases of denial of justice suffered by the Christian minority. On 21 January, the court of the province of Qena (Upper Egypt) released seven Muslim responsible for an assault Coptic village of Marashada in early January. Also in Qena, after the burning of their church some months ago, the Catholic Coptic community of Higaza still has nowhere to celebrate mass. The authorities are blocking the reconstruction of the religious building.

For Mina Magdy, October 9, 2011 is a crucial point in time not only for Christians, but for the entire population. "Our movement has arisen with the aim of improving the crisis situation in the Egyptian judicial system," which has not changed since the days of Mubarak. Until now, all the trials against military officials responsible for the massacres that took place during the Arab Spring have been halted, including that of Mohammed Mahmoud Street, which killed dozens of demonstrators. "Only by working for the good of the population - he concludes- can the Copts improve their own situation." The movement has already filed several complaints against the Egyptian government at the International Court of Justice. (S.C.)

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