The test of bloody Sunday

October 18th, 2011

The tragic death of Coptic protesters underlines the need for a prompt end to the increasingly confused transition, Dina Ezzat reports. – Published on Al-Ahram, Issue no 1068, by Dina Ezzat, week 13-19 Oct. 2011.

“Why should I care if the government has resigned or not? Does it mean anything? Christians are still being killed and churches burned down. It happened under Hosni Mubarak but after the revolution we had hoped things would change for the better,” said Angele, an elderly Coptic lady, as she was leaving an Orthodox Church in Heliopolis on Tuesday evening … // 

… Following Sunday’s carnage the SCAF asked the cabinet to finalise the new legislation within two weeks. But according to a source at the prime minister’s office, issuing the law is one thing, applying it another. He suggested that the SCAF would shy away from enforcing a law that could lead to further sectarian confrontations.

In and out of the Coptic Cathedral on Monday the anger was palpable. A source close to the Coptic Cathedral told the Weekly that Pope Shenouda is being urged by his closest aides to “make it very clear to the authorities that the Church will not keep its head down when Copts are being killed”.

Security has been beefed up, especially in Upper Egypt where anger is running high and the fact-finding committee investigating the destruction of a church two weeks ago in Aswan is just beginning its work.

Speaking by phone from Nagaa Hammadi, the scene of a shocking attack on Coptic worshippers exiting a church on Christmas Eve January 2010, Nargis, a copt protester, said that “everybody is angry”.

It is not clear how this anger will be channelled. A police officer posted in Assiut said that there is serious concern that “violence will erupt again given the agitated sentiments and upcoming parliamentary elections”.

Meanwhile, sources at the Coptic patriarchy say priests “across Egypt” have been preaching restraint in the face of any possible provocation. “We will continue to turn the other cheek to violence but we will also be firm in our call for our rights as citizens of this country and we will continue to pray to the Lord to save us — the Lord, not anybody else,” he said in reference to fabricated statements suggesting possible American intervention to protect churches in Egypt.

On Monday the Coptic Church asked its members to fast for three days. It is the first time in 30 years, when late president Anwar El-Sadat moved into open confrontation with Pope Shenouda, that such a call has been made. (full text).

(My comment:

  • A totally transparent democracy is the only way which allows us to live together in freedom and peace. If strict belief systems dictating our life makes us intolerant, these confrontations are normal.
  • Democracy, freedom, equality is only possible, if different belief systems are tolerated by all participants. But even if we tolerate each other, in democracy decision making is often long, laborious and painful, as it is a necessary learning process.
  • If people are not able to live in peace with their neighbors showing a different belief system, it’s normal that military forces dominate the country. Democracy is only possible if we respect our neighbors).

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