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» 07/15/2013
EGYPT - ISLAM
After Morsi, Christians and churches targeted by Islamists
About a hundred Christian families flee the Sinai after the murder of a Coptic priest and the beheading of a Christian businessman. Gunmen riddle churches with bullets. Christian stores are marked for possible attacks, whilst demonstrations target Patriarch Tawadros, "guilty" of supporting Morsi's ouster. Christians are likely to be scapegoated by Islamist groups and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - More than a hundred Christian families have fled El Arish in the Sinai after receiving death threats from Islamist groups following the fall of Mohamed Morsi. On 6 July, a 39-year-old priest, Fr Mina Haroan Abboud, was killed. On 11 July, the body of another Christian, a merchant from Sheikh Zowayd, was found decapitated. He had been kidnapped a few days before. Currently, Coptic churches in northern Sinai have cancelled all services and meetings, except for a Mass on Friday. No Christians are left in the towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zowayd.

The Sinai Peninsula has always been a home for Islamist groups, many of them linked to Hamas in Gaza. For decades, they have fought against the Egyptian army as it tried to stop weapon supplies and smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Under Morsi and the Brotherhood, the army had reduced pressure on them but now the military is back in force following the fall of Hosni Mubarak's successor.

In the few days since Morsi's removal, the Sinai has seen dozens of attacks against police stations, army checkpoints, and individual members of the Armed Forces. But attacks have also been carried out against the Christians, "guilty" of supporting Morsi's fall.

On 5 July, a Jihadist group using the name Ansar al-Shari'a in the Land of Kinaanah (i.e. Egypt) issued a statement promising to respond to the "war against Islam in Egypt," a war waged by "secularists, atheists, Mubarak loyalists, Christians, security forces and the leaders of the Egyptian Army."

In its statement, the group describes democracy as "blasphemous" in assuming one of God's prerogative and warns of impending "massacres of Muslims in Egypt".

Christians, especially Patriarch Tawadros, are accused of conniving with the army to remove Mohamed Morsi.

Coptic Patriarch Tawadros and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Mosque Ahmed al-Tayeb were present at the ceremony in which Morsi's removal was announced.

In many pro-Morsi manifestations organised recently by the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Tayeb is branded as a "traitor."

The Coptic patriarch has also been accused of betraying Egypt. Three days ago in Heliopolis, at least 2,000 young members of the Muslim Brotherhood wrote "Down with Tawadros" on the walls of a (Catholic) church during a demonstration that lasted several hours.

It is likely that the Coptic minority will be scapegoated for President Morsi's fall and the Brotherhood's loss of power.

"Tensions are high," Christian sources in Egypt told AsiaNews, also because the Brotherhood, aided by infiltrated jihadists, is planning a series of anti-Christian terrorist attacks.

Three days ago, the Christian village of Dabaaya was attacked by a group of armed men who burnt 23 houses and killed four Christians. One of them, Emile Nessim, had worked hard to collect the signatures for the Tamarod (rebel) movement that led to Morsi's fall.

On 9 July, the Mar Mina Church in Port Said was riddled with bullets by a group of unknown gunmen.

In recent days, a group of Islamists drew crosses on some shops owned by Egyptian Copts in Minya (250 km south of Cairo). People are afraid that this 'Nazi-style' gesture might be the prelude of a terrorist attack against the targeted buildings.

Some sources note however that in general, after Morsi's removal, there has been a greater sense of reconciliation between Muslims and Christians, "a stronger solidarity against extremism and for national unity".


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See also
09/12/2013 ITALY - EGYPT
Egyptian Coptic refugee finds comfort in pope's words after enduring pain in Minya
by Giulia Mazza
11/09/2012 EGYPT
Islamists seize Tahrir Square to impose Sharia on Egypt
06/24/2013 EGYPT
Giza: Islamist mob attacks Shia village killing four
01/25/2012 EGYPT
Tahrir Square flooded by people who want to continue the Jasmine Revolution
07/06/2013 EGYPT
As Islamists opt for hard line, police open fire, more than 30 dead

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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