By Coptic Solidarity –
For Immediate Release
Coptic Solidarity expresses its grave concerns with the increasing incidences of attacks on the Coptic community, and demands that Egyptian authorities exercise their responsibilities to protect all citizens, hold accountable culprits to the full force of the law and to take concrete and decisive steps to ending the climate of hatred and institutionalized discrimination against Christians.
In the span of just the last two months, Copts have been brutally targeted and murdered, and many Coptic homes and businesses have been looted and set on fire in livid mob violence. Among the tragic incidences have been:
- Stripping naked and dragging through the streets of a town near Minya of a seventy-year old Christian woman, Soad Thabet, following trumped-up rumors of an affair of her son with a Muslim woman. Most of the arrested mobsters have since been released and Ms. Thabet has been pressured to an informal reconciliation with the culprits in lieu of pursuing her legal rights.
- In a village of Amereya, near Alexandria, mobs attacked a house rumored for being used by Copts as a place for prayer, and police arrested several Copts and accused them of ‘praying without permit.’ Here too, victims have been pressured by the authorities to hold a “reconciliation meeting,” a tribal process meant to blackmail them into accepting minimal – often humiliating – settlements and forgo real justice.
- Mina Thabet, a Coptic researcher and rights activist was arrested in the middle of the night from his home without a warrant. Mr. Thabet was charged with joining a terrorist organization, inciting protests, attacking police stations, and possessing publications of calling for the overthrow of the government, due to his efforts to document and draw attention to the increasing human rights abuses committed by the Egyptian government. Though later released on bail, Mr. Thabet suffered severe physical abuse in prison at the hands of the police that left him unable to walk without the support of crutches.
- Thirteen-year old Loisa Mourad, daughter of a Coptic priest, was stabbed in a market in Souhag. The culprit has avoided incarceration under the all-too-common pretense of “suffering from mental illness.”
- Coptic pharmacist Magdy Attia was stabbed to death and then decapitated by a group of fanatical Muslims at an apartment complex. Although security cameras in the area captured clear /images of the perpetrators who were covered in blood, no one has been arrested for the heinous crime.
- A car transporting three nuns was attacked on a main road north of Cairo, killing Sister Athanasea and injuring the others. Authorities again deflected attention to the targeting of Christians by claiming the car was “caught in a cross-fire.”
- Coptic priest Raphael Moussa was gunned down by jihadists in El-Arish, continuing a long series of terrorist attacks against Copts in northern Sinai.
These episodes are not isolated events, but rather symptoms of the systematic discrimination against Copts in Egypt. As Coptic Solidarity’s recent 7th Annual Conference highlighted, Copts are second class citizens. Discrimination is evidenced in every aspect of life, from indifference to attacks targeting Christians, to state-backed cultural and educational marginalization, to the use of “anti-blasphemy” laws to placate religious bigotry, to the lack of Copts in positions of prominence in government, the armed forces, the judiciary or in academia, to the inability to obtain permits to build or repair churches and the closure of churches due to Islamist threats.
Coptic Solidarity’s president, Dr. George Gurguis, states, “We urgently call on Egyptian authorities, led by President Sisi, to translate into action the government’s positive rhetoric of an equitable and tolerant Egypt. The growing climate of impunity of violence against Copts is detrimental to the lives and well-being not only of Copts, but to all Egyptians.”
Coptic Solidarity specifically calls on Egyptian authorities to:
- Protect the sanctity of the life, safety and properties of Copts;
- Bring to account and apply the full force of justice against perpetrators of violence, including all local police and government officials whose indifference and complacency have allowed these mob actions and attacks against Copts;
- Abolish the so called “reconciliation meetings” which should not replace bringing perpetrators to justice in the judicial system.
- Pass and implement legislation to guarantee the freedom of building of new churches and repair of existing ones, and fulfill the promise to rebuild churches and Coptic institutions that were destroyed by Islamists in August 2015.
- Pass legislation to combat discrimination, and create an impartial body to monitor its implementation;
- Shut down avenues of religious hate, including from within state-backed religious, media and educational bodies;
- Annul the abusive “anti-blasphemy” code in Article 98(f) of the Penal Code;
- Annul religious identification from official identity cards.
Copts stand firmly behind Egypt and the world’s existential battle against Islamist terrorism. Coptic Solidarity strongly believes that an Egypt that is free and just for all will overcome regressive forces, and urges Egyptian authorities and the global community to support the creation of a modern, equitable, just and prosperous Egypt.
Coptic Solidarity is an organization seeking to help minorities, particularly the Copts, of Egypt and we support those in Egypt working for democracy, freedom, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens. For more information, contact Lindsay Vessey at 801-512-1713 or email@example.com