25 May 2017
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  • » 08/09/2013, 00.00

    EGYPT

    Egypt's Pope Tawadros targeted by Islamists



    Catholic sources say the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch is a target for possible Islamist reprisal. His weekly readings in Cairo cathedral have been cancelled for safety reasons. Meanwhile, in many parts of Egypt, anti-Christian intimidation and violence continue with two deaths in the past two days. For activist, "People are waiting for the army to remove Muslim Brotherhood protest camps."

    Cairo (AsiaNews) - "We fear that Pope Tawadros II might become a target of Islamist reprisal," said Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt. "In recent weeks, after the fall of the Morsi administration, attacks and acts of intimidation against the Christian minority have occurred on a daily basis."

    On 3 July, when General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, ushering in a period of transition, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, and Coptic Pope Tawadros, expressed both their enthusiasm and approval. The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church added, "The plan laid out by the general will be carried out by people who care about the country's fate."

    Such a statement in support of the caretaker government has led many members of the Muslim Brotherhood to think that Christians were behind a plot against President Morsi, and this has triggered a spate of reprisals from violent groups.

    "Pope Tawadros II," Fr Greiche said, "used to go to Cairo's St Mark Cathedral every Wednesday to meet with the faithful and hold a series of weekly readings. Since President Morsi's ouster more than a month ago, he has been forced to hold those meetings in a monastery outside the city."

    "From Upper Egypt to the capital, violence and intimidation continue. Two days ago, a Catholic man was killed in Sohag, whilst yesterday, a 10-year-old girl was murdered as she left a Protestant church in one of the more densely populated districts of Cairo. The attackers came up to her on a motorcycle and opened fire.

    Maghdi Mina, a leader in the Muslim-Christian Maspero Youth Union, told AsiaNews that "in the streets of Cairo there is an atmosphere of expectation, after Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi gave an ultimatum to the Muslim Brotherhood to end its protest camp."

    "After a month occupying Nahda and Rabaa Adawiya, people are tired and wondering why the military is still letting things go on as they are," he added.

    Many analysts believe that Western diplomatic meddling in the political affairs of the country has been a hindrance to a more determined intervention by the Armed Forces.

    On 7 August, caretaker Prime Minister Beblawi announced the failure of Western-backed diplomatic talks, and made a last appeal to the Muslim Brotherhood to leave the streets and return to home.

    For weeks, military helicopters have been flying over the areas occupied by Islamist demonstrators, dropping flyers urging them to leave. Now people expect the military to move in in a few days time.

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    See also

    24/11/2011 EGYPT
    Neither the military nor extremists in the new Egypt, says young Copt
    Nagui Damiam talks about the renewed unity among Egyptians demonstrating in Tahrir Square. The Muslim Brotherhood is strong and well organised, but it is far from what young people want. A victory by extremists against the military would trigger a civil war with moderate forces. A Christian exodus has already started.

    10/11/2011 EGYPT
    Shenouda III urges Copts to vote en masse for moderate Muslims if need be
    The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church stresses the importance of Christians for the country’s stability and future. Citizenship committees are being organised at the parish level to push Christians to become engaged in politics. Experts warn against a new military regime in Egypt, look favourably to the Tunisian model.

    06/04/2013 EGYPT
    Egypt: Islamist Muslim Brotherhood set sights on al-Azhar
    The Grand Mufti of Egypt criticizes Islamists’ attacks on authorities of the largest Sunni university. The great Imam al-Tayeb and the rector of the University are being investigated for the poisoning of 550 students. But according to AsiaNews sources the move is only a pretext of the Muslim Brotherhood to gain control of the institution. Al-Azhar cleric: "The Islamists are poisoning the minds of our students."

    12/12/2012 EGYPT
    Cairo, Muslim, Christian, secular and veiled women march for democracy
    Hundreds of thousands of people in Tahrir Square and in front of the presidential palace demonstrated against the constitutional referendum of 15 December. The Islamist front loses support. The liberal movements the true voice of Egypt.

    14/08/2013 EGYPT
    As Muslim Brotherhood sit-in protests cleared, casualty figure uncertain
    The authorities move in at dawn in the areas of El-Nahda Square and Rabaa al-Adawiya. The Muslim Brotherhood claim hundreds of deaths and wounded, but there is no confirmation. At least one policeman was killed in the clashes. Islamists respond to the police charge with firearms and stones. A spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church says the country is "tired of this situation."



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