08/20/2014, 00.00
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Attacks on Egyptian churches a year later

by Nirmala Carvalho
In an interview, the principal of a Jesuit school in Minya talks about "an anniversary that the world wanted to forget." Today, "the situation has improved" in the city, especially in the relations between Muslims and Christians. The Islamic community "reassures us of the need of our presence here."

Minya (AsiaNews) - "Last 14 August marked an anniversary the world would rather forget, namely the destruction of many churches in Egypt. As if we Christians were not human beings and, therefore, did not deserve to live," said Fr Bimal Kerketta SJ.

The Indian-born Jesuit clergyman has been in Egypt for more than ten years where he is the dean of the school of the Jesuit Fathers in Minya.

In remembrance of the Islamist fury that swept over Christian institutions and places of worship, he celebrated a memorial Mass with his community so that what happened on 14 August 2013 would not be forgotten, asking God for "the opportunity to rebuild what was destroyed."

In an interview with AsiaNews, Fr Kerketta talked about what has changed with the rise to power of former General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, especially in relations with Muslims.

Today do you live in insecurity?

Although the situation has improved, we must always be careful and cautious. The government is trying to do its best, but given the large numbers, it cannot always do so in a timely manner.

One thing that is being said is that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood managed to do in just two years what Mubarak failed to do in 30 years: fraud, corruption, lies, and more.

Any sign of hope?

Yes, there seem to be some hope with Al-Sisi's government. Some Muslims are willing to help, but we still cannot count on them, because they are afraid of being considered "khafir", not "real" Muslims. If a good Muslim speaks against such acts, he can be killed by anyone, without anyone doing anything.

After the destruction of your school, did you receive support from the Muslim community?

Yes, many people have shown love and appreciation for our work. All the Muslims who know what we do are always grateful, because they see the difference. After the attack, they showed their appreciation for the contribution Jesuits make to society and the education of their children.

Today, this gratitude is more openly expressed, not only in schools but also in everyday life. They also continue to reassure us about the need for our presence here, for the good of all.

Have you received compensation for the attack?

Yes, but it is not sufficient given the level of damage, so we did not accept it. Jesuit Social Centre was destroyed and burned down and after a  long awaited permission,we had to pull it down completely.We've to wait again now  to get the permission to rebuild it. 

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