By Raymond Ibrahim – Special for Coptic Solidarity –
A new Arabic language report underscores the difficulties Egypt’s Coptic Christians continue to experience in their attempts to reopen many of their currently governmentally-closed churches—despite President Sisi’s supposed commitment to “consolidate [the concept of] citizenship and affirm the principle of freedom of worship” in Muslim-majority Egypt.
The report mentions a number of forcibly closed churches in various governorates, including in Sohag, Minya, Samalout, and Asna. Most of these churches are the only churches in their respective regions—meaning local Christians are denied a place to worship, even though one is readily available. One of these churches— St. George’s in ‘Izbit Dabous—has been closed for over two decades, since 2002.
For many years now, Coptic leadership has been formally petitioning the Minister of Interior to reopen these churches, to no avail.
The report concludes by saying that
Copts are hoping that there will be a breakthrough regarding these churches that have been closed for years, and an end to their suffering, allowing them their right to practice religious ceremonies that have been suspended due to security reasons.
Egypt’s injustice against its Christian minority can be found in those last two words. All of the above churches were closed by authorities on the claim that they posed a “security threat.” This simply means that, whenever local Muslims do not want a church near them—which they show by rioting and committing acts of violence—authorities respond, not by punishing the rioters and defending the church’s right to exist, but by shutting down the church on the claim that it poses a “security threat.”
In late December, 2022, for example, Muslims attacked a church and its Christians after authorities had given them permission to fix their church’s collapsed roof, which had fallen on and hurt several worshippers. (According to strict sharia, churches must never be repaired but left to crumble over time.) On the following day, the Muslim governor rescinded the church’s permit to fix its crumbling roof.
In total, there are now more than 50 churches in Egypt to be closed on the dubious claim that they pose security threats — that is, because Muslims riot at their existence.