For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —
Coptic Solidarity condemns in the strongest terms the brutal attack of December 11 on St. Peter and St. Paul church – adjacent to the Coptic Papal Seat of St Mark Cathedral – which resulted in the deaths of at least 25 and the injury of 65 church-goers. The attack took place during the Sunday morning mass service, and the victims are mostly women and children.
Coptic Solidarity extends our deepest condolences to the victims’ loved ones and wishes a full and speedy recovery to those injured.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi condemned the “terrorist attack,” and vowed to hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice. He later claimed that it was a 22-year old male suicide bomber who managed to sneak into the church. Meanwhile, the government’s media are quick to air lunatic theories blaming ‘external powers’ – especially the ‘Zionist-American’ – of conspiring to destabilize and partition Egypt.
Angry crowds at the scene put the blame squarely on the government’s dysfunctional policies, and even shouted anti-Sisi slogans. Such reactions are far from being just spontaneous or emotionally driven.
The overwhelming majority of Copts strongly supported President Sisi and his efforts to stabilize Egypt through combatting terrorism. However, their support has worn out as they have come to realize that their dhimmi-like situation under Sisi’s rule is actually no better, if not worse, than under Mubarak. Regimes come and go but it seems that persecution of Copts is a quasi-permanent ideology of the Egyptian state.
This latest attack targeting the Coptic Christian community, though particularly brutal, was neither unforeseen nor isolated. A culture of impunity of attacks on Copts stems from the complete failure of authorities to hold accountable those responsible for previous acts of violence. In many cases, authorities even deliberately obfuscated the course of justice.
President Sisi needs to break with past policies and make a decisive turn, in order to take Egypt in the right direction. The security-related aspects are certainly vital, but efforts are bound to fail unless other fundamental changes are made on three fronts:
- A genuine ideological battle against Islamists must be waged. President Sisi has won praise for calling for ‘reforming Islamic religious discourse.’ However, apart from stubborn resistance by Al-Azhar, the call seems largely hypocritical as Mr. Sisi grants his Salafi allies open space to spread their hate speech in mosques and through the media.
- The state-run public education is little more than a system to produce extremists. It needs an urgent and radical overhaul.
- So far, little more than lip service is paid to Copts’ citizen rights. This has to change. Egypt needs to fully embrace the modern secular system of government and eradicate the institutionalized discrimination against Coptic Christians in Egypt.
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 upholding values of freedom, equality, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens. It advocates in cooperation with the affiliated organizations in Canada and in Europe (Solidarité Copte). For more information, contact Lindsay Vessey at 801-512-1713 or firstname.lastname@example.org