» 03/14/2011, 00.00
Military rebuilding Coptic church destroyed by Muslims
The building will rise in the same place and be as big as the old one, this despite opposition from Muslim radicals.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – The Egyptian armed forces have begun rebuilding the Saints Minas and George Coptic Church set on fire by Muslims in Soul on 5 March, sources, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews. Reconstruction began today and is being paid by the government.
“The church will be built on the same location and will be as big as the old one, despite opposition by radical Muslims,” the source said.
Copts welcomed the news, but announced that they would continue to demonstrate in front of Egyptian TV to demand equal rights for Christians, a principle still denied by Egypt’s constitution.
“The rebuilding of the church is a sign of good will on the part of the military,” the source said. “Recently, a delegation from al-Azhar University came to visit Christians in Soul to express their closeness to them.”
The torching of the Coptic church in Soul, a town some 30 kilometres south of Cairo, was followed by clashes between Copts and Muslims that caused the death of 13 people with more than 50 wounded. However last Friday, Copts and Muslims, brandishing their respective religious symbols (cross and crescent), gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to show the interfaith unity of the Egyptian people.
According to the source, a positive atmosphere now prevails in the capital as no Christian-Muslim clash has been reported. Nonetheless, fear of Islamic extremism remains high.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is the only organised armed group in the country,” the source said. “Despite internal divisions, they are united in pushing the ideas of radical Islam in the upcoming parliamentary elections”. (S.C.)
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Some 8,000 people demonstrate in front of Egyptian TV, demanding the rebuilding of the Coptic Church of Saints Minas and George, destroyed by extremists last Saturday. It is the first protest of its kind by Copts other than at their cathedral. For Fr Rafik Greiche, head of the press office of the Catholic Church of Egypt, this demonstration is a sign that Christians dare take to the streets. However, fundamentalists are still trying to take advantage of the situation of chaos to impose on Egypt Sharia and a radical version of Islam. “Western government can put pressure on our government to recognise the value of this equality on society,” the clergyman said.
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Cairo, Al-Azhar condemns violence against Christians
The death toll rises to 13 from clashes between Copts and Muslims in recent days in Cairo, after the burning of a church. The violence has mainly involved the landfill district of Mansheya.
Clashes between Copts and Muslims continue, six dead and 42 injured
Violence breaks out during a demonstration organised by Copts to demand the rebuilding of a Church demolished by Muslims in Soul last Saturday. The army intervenes to stop the violence. In Upper Egypt, a Christian hospital for the disable is at risk of demolition. A number of Christian-owned homes are torn down.
Cairo, 100 Coptic families flee after clashes between Christians and Muslims
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