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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
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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