On Friday the 5th, six Coptic Christians and one Muslim were killed on the outskirts of Cairo in an area called Khosous. Reports indicate that Salafist sheiks had called for Jihad just prior to the supposed spontaneous Friday altercation. Various reasons have been cited as the cause of this violence, but most point to a feud after male members of a Muslim family had sexually harassed a girl from a Christian family, who was walking unveiled in the street.
It is most concerning that repeated attacks against Coptic Christians, their churches and properties have yet again occurred in response to incidents involving a few individuals. Yet, Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood persist in their efforts, using flimsy excuses, to enlist Muslim mobs in their tactics of collective punishment and aggression against Copts living in the neighborhood. As in Friday's incident, over 20 were injured, a Coptic church attacked and an Evangelical church set on fire. Among the six Christians killed, one was burnt alive.
A funeral service was held on Sunday at St. Mark's Cathedral for those killed. Yet again, Muslim extremists were present outside and attacked mourners leaving the Cathedral, some of whom had planned a protest march after the service. Many reports, supported by photos and video clips, indicate that police forces that were present stood idly by and in some instances even assisted the attacking Muslims. They threw multiple teargas canisters on the Cathedral's yard and against the mourners, many of whom were women and children. Two Copts were killed and scores wounded.
Hundreds of mourners were trapped all night inside the Cathedral. Attackers threw rocks and firebombs from the tops of surrounding buildings at the Cathedral. Coptic Solidarity President, Adel Guindy, says "Attacking the seat of the Coptic Pope is unprecedented in the last two centuries. It was a deliberate and humiliating act demonstrating the growing Salafist -- espoused culture of hate and aggressive behavior towards all non-Muslims. It amounts to a State crime." This attack can only rightly be understood as part of the larger effort to create an Islamist theocracy in Egypt. Should they succeed, it will leave no room for pluralism, whether religious or political.
Diverting attention from ongoing troubles towards sectarian problems has been a good tool put in use by Mubarak, and now plays perfectly well for the Muslim Brotherhood. President Morsi's belated and weak response to the unprecedented attack was followed by a statement (in English!) from his office, falsifying the facts and blaming the victims. This further illustrates his administration's support of this growing culture of intolerance and hate.
The Pope stated in a TV interview "...There are many question marks about the events of Khosous and the Cathedral, pointing out that the security agencies did not do their full duty, with a possible negligence. It would have been possible to control the situation had there been the right decision at the time."
Coptic Solidarity calls on the Morsi government to end these diversionary tactics and provide equal protection for all Egyptians. Morsi should immediately initiate a thorough and objective investigation into the events bringing the perpetrators to justice. Furthermore, Coptic Solidarity emphasizes that Copts in Egypt need special attention from the international community.
Please join us, and invite others who believe that all individuals deserve human rights and dignity, in a peaceful demonstration to protest the persecution of the Copts and all religious minorities in Egypt and the Middle East.
- When: Thursday, April 18 from noon to 2 p.m.
Where: Washington, D.C. - In front of the Pennsylvania Ave. main gate of the White House,
Followed by a March to Congress/Capitol Hill via Pennsylvania Ave