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» 02/15/2012
EGYPT
Sharqia: Church and homes set on fire by some 2,000 Muslim extremists
Clashes in the village of Meet Bashar ended last night after the mediation of some Muslim Brotherhood leaders. For Fr Rafic Greiche, the victory by Islamist parties in the elections has increased anti-Christian attacks.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - A mob of nearly 2,000 radical Muslims, mainly Salafists, set fire to the Church of St Mary and St Abram in the village of Meet Bashar, in Zagazig, Sharqia province (50 kilometres north-east of Cairo). Since Sunday, the area has been the scene of clashes between Muslim extremists and Christians. Calm returned to the area after mediation by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, who convinced the Salafists to leave the village.

The violence was caused by the disappearance of Rania Khalil, a Christian teenager who went missing last Sunday. Her father is a convert to Islam. She was found today and is in police custody. She and her mother will be interrogated by police. Salafists believe she was abducted by Christians to prevent her conversion to Islam.

Since the victory of Islamist parties in Egypt's recent elections, anti-Coptic attacks have increased across the country. The latest occurred on 27 January in the village of Kobry-el-Sharbat (el-Ameriya), near Alexandria, said Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church.

On that occasion, Salafists tried to burn the homes of the village's 62 Coptic families, after some Muslims accused a Christian tailor, Mourad Samy Guirgis, of having "illicit" pictures of a Muslim woman on his mobile phone.

"Muslim radicals use conversions to Christianity from Islam as a pretext to attack and scare the Coptic community so that it will flee," Fr Greiche explained. "This is happening across Egypt."

"In Western media, the prevailing idea is that religious clashes between Christians and Muslims happen only in Upper Egypt and Cairo's slums, where people are ignorant. In fact, when it comes to conversion from one religion to another, there is no distinction between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, Upper or Lower Egypt."

In Muslim society, anyone who converts to Christianity becomes an outcast, Fr Greiche said. By contrast, those who speak out against forced conversions to Islam are not protected by the authorities and in most cases are forced to withdraw their accusations under pressures and threats.

Things are bound to get worse, the clergyman believes. "Salafists are Egypt's second largest party. After the election, they hold 20 per cent of the seats in parliament. In the next few months, they could use their political power against Christians."


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See also
03/04/2013 EGYPT
Christians and Muslims protest in Cairo against anti-minority violence
03/15/2012 EGYPT
Egypt's parliament describes Israel as the country's "first enemy"
01/23/2012 EGYPT
For Catholic Church, Islamist victory scares Christians but expresses the will of the people
01/27/2012 EGYPT
Salafist threats against Christians must stop, says Mahmoud Salem
06/24/2011 EGYPT
Hundreds of Salafists attack a Coptic church in Upper Egypt

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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