12/30/2016, 10.28
EGYPT-US
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Government and Christians against US interference in Church reconstruction

by Loula Lahham

US Congress discusses a law authorizing the supervision of the work of reconstruction of churches and buildings destroyed by Islamic extremists. 84 in total from 2013 to the present. Cairo authorities and Christian groups call the norm illegitimate form of interference. Fr. Greiche: Where was the United States when the Muslim Brotherhood burned the churches? 

Cairo (AsiaNews) – Days after dismantling extremist Islamic groups in Rabea and Al-Nahda, the Egyptian government – through the Foreign Ministry spokesman  - has slammed a bill being considered by the US Congress to guarantee US control of the reconstruction work on dozens of churches destroyed or burned in the recent past by fundamentalists and jihadists movements in Egypt.

The law therefore wants to assign the US Secretary of State supervision of the efforts made by the Egyptian government in the restoration or reconstruction of Christian buildings damaged from 2013 to today. In total there are at least 84 churches, schools and community centers belonging to various Christian denominations in Egypt, targeted by Islamic extremists.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement was followed by official statements from the nations Christian Churches and communities.

For the Orthodox, the Egyptian government has done all it could to restore the churches, using its own funds and with the contribution of Egyptian workers. In an official statement the leaders of the community say that "President al Sisi has promised and kept his promise. Work has also already started on Boutrossiya [the church attacked last December 11], aided by engineers of the Egyptian Armed Forces team. It will be recovered and ready for the Christmas prayers (which falls on January 7 according to the Eastern calendar) ".

Pastor Andrea Zaki, head of the Evangelical Church (Protestant), which has about 220 thousand faithful, is also contrary to the bill being considered by the US Congress. "This is a clear interference - he explains - in our internal affairs. The Egyptian government has always shown solidarity towards Christians, and most of the churches have been rebuilt”.

The Egyptian Catholic Church has joined the rejection of American interference in the restoration of places of worship. "The Americans were almost absent on August 14 and 15 2013, when our churches were torched by the Muslim Brotherhood" says spokesman Fr. Rafic Greiche. "Their reaction – he  adds – is cold and inbad taste."

Secular circles have also come out against foreign interference. The Coptic intellectual and analyst Kamal Zakher stresses: "First of all, we ask the US government to stop funding terrorist groups, and to no longer provide hospitality in the United States. It is essential to stop financing the authors of this devastation and the fires, before even thinking of fixing the damage of their actions and of their misdeeds. "

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the new law was promoted personally by Republican Senator David Trott and will be discussed in the next session of Congress, in its 114th year, in January. Trott believes that there are still 29 Christian buildings in 24 different places that have not yet been the subject of restoration. For their part, the United States continues to warn their citizens about the dangers of travel in Egypt, for serious security problems. Among the hottest spots include the Western Desert and the Sinai area, as well as the area around the resort town of Sharm el Sheikh, on the Red Sea.

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