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    » 08/13/2014, 00.00

    EGYPT - ISLAM

    For Catholic Church spokesman, Egyptian Muslims show solidarity with Iraq's persecuted Christians



    Media and civil society groups are following with concern events in the Arab country. Criticism is expressed against the inertia of Arab and Muslim leaders. Father Greiche describes a nation that is slowly recovering with "a sense of greater security." The Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet have become the subject of "non-violent" interpretation.

    Cairo (AsiaNews) - Egyptian media and civil society groups are following with concern events in Iraq, where the army of the Islamic State is systematically persecuting minorities. They are close to the Christians" and openly criticise "the inertia of Arab and Muslim leaders," said Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church.

    Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that more and more people agree that jihadism must be contained and closely watched.  For the Christian clergyman, Egypt too is not immune from what is happening in Iraq. Attacking minorities was also "part of the agenda" of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    In a recent report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Egyptian security forces "planned massacre" against pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators in July and August 2013. However, for Fr Greiche, the report is "prejudiced and biased" in the way it describes the mass killings by Egyptian troops. In his view, the crackdown was meant to end the opposition by loyalists of former President Mohammed Morsi, who were themselves responsible for acts of violence and abuse.

    The Christian leader said he was in a privileged position "about a kilometre from Rabaa," the mosque where the massacre took place. "In fact, armed Salafists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood could be seen," he said. "Certainly no one can speak of unarmed civilians . . . Maybe the police might have done a better job, but the report is biased."

    President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has led the country since June. The former army chief who overthrew Morsi has pursued an intransigent policy towards the fundamentalist wing that de facto boycotted the vote.

    "Today there is a sense of greater safety," Fr Greiche noted. "There is an atmosphere of enthusiasm, even if the power supply is often cut and the economic crisis persists. Nevertheless, Egyptians want to rebuild their lives and encourage their children's education. [. . .] Stabilisation, security and economic recovery" remain the priorities. "We must speed up things."

    "Freedom from Hosni Mubarak's tyranny" is what is left of the protests in Tahrir Square, said the Catholic Church spokesman. However, historians are still struggling to frame this recent period in the nation's history.

    Although some talk about revolt and others of revolution, the clergyman has his own interpretation of events. "It began as a revolt, and became a revolution when Mubarak proved too slow to heed people's questions." By contrast, the anti-Morsi revolt "achieved more effective results."

    As far Christians are concerned, "not much has changed, since they go to church today as they did before," Fr Greiche said. However, an interesting thing, he noted, is a government proposal "agreed by the heads of Churches" to go later this year before Parliament for approval, on the ownership of religious buildings.

    "In Egypt, there is freedom of religion and a desire to discuss things," he added. "This can be seen from the first concrete attempts to discuss Islam from within," he explained.

    "The Qur'an, the sayings of the Prophet, what is right and wrong in the holy book are being discussed. A desire is emerging to interpret what the prophet Muhammad said. This is talked about on TV and in the newspapers, freely, with contributions not only from experts but also from young people, and atheists. Without violence or tensions."

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    See also

    27/11/2008 ISLAM - EGYPT
    Thousands of Muslims attack Coptic church in Cairo
    On the day of the inauguration of a church in the suburbs of the Egyptian capital, Islamic demonstrators have attacked the building, forcing about 800 faithful to barricade themselves inside the church.

    07/01/2014 EGYPT
    Coptic Orthodox celebrate Christmas under tight security but without violence
    In Cairo and throughout Egypt army and police control access to the churches. For the first time since Nasser a President visits the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Abasseya . Tawadros II : The birth of Jesus "brings hope, courage and a new life".

    24/11/2010 EGYPT
    Islamists lay siege to Coptic church near pyramids
    The Egyptian Union of Human Rights calls for local government chief to be dismissed for fuelling interreligious tensions. Police forces surround church under construction, seizing four concrete mixing vehicles. Thousands of Copts surround the building to protect it.

    28/11/2012 EGYPT
    The new revolution of the Egyptian youth against the "neo-dictator" Mohamed Morsi
    Tens of thousands of people have been thronging the streets for days. The results of the first clashes with the police is already two dead and one seriously injured. The demonstrators: "A revolution to save the revolution." André Azzam, an Egyptian journalist, explains to AsiaNews the climate these days in the capital, which after a year is back in the hands of pro-democracy movements. More than 50% of the population is tired of Islamists accused of having brought the country to the brink of civil war. The eerie silence of the military leadership which has passed into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamists warn the democrats: "Do not play with fire."

    28/04/2012 EGYPT
    Egyptian court shelves trial against 'unknown' for Maspero massacre of Copts
    Judges claim "lack of identification of the culprits." In the October 9, 2011 massacre of peaceful demonstrators 27 Christians were killed and over 300 were injured. 28Copts arrested in the aftermath of the massacre and accused of involvement also acquitted. Victims’ relatives cry "farce".



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