June 24, 2008
Copts demonstrating in the Netherlands. Credit: the Coptic website Coptreal
In the midst
of continuing sectarian tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt,
the Coptic diaspora has recently called for demonstrations in the U.S. and
Coptic migrants took to the streets in the Netherlands, France and the U.S.,
raising banners reading "Save Christians in Egypt," "Stop Islamic Terrorism" and
"Help! Christians of Egypt are under attack."
follow an eruption of violence between Muslims and Copts in several parts of
Egypt. Last month a land dispute involving a Coptic monastery left one Muslim
man killed in the southern province of Menya. Four Copts, including two monks,
were injured. The clash arose after the monastery began building a wall around
neighboring farming land, saying it belonged to the church. Days earlier in
Cairo, four Copts were shot dead in a jewelry shop by two gunmen who fled
without stealing anything.
predominantly Sunni Muslim; the Coptic minority is believed to constitute almost
10% of a population of 78 million.
An estimated 2 million Copts live in the diaspora.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981, the Coptic Church has
sought to project an image of religious co-existence and has not turned to
inflammatory discourse on sectarian violence. Yet the response to the recent
bloodshed suggests that the church is about to change its style. This month the
Coptic Holy Senate issued a relatively strongly worded statement calling on
Mubarak to put an end to armed attacks against Copts and ensure their safety.
which refrains from publicly criticizing the regime, has often distanced itself
from the demands made by its followers overseas. This week violence broke out
between Copts and Muslims over a rumor of the kidnapping of a Muslim woman and
her son in Fayoum province, about 80 miles south of Cairo. One Muslim reportedly
died of a heart attack and four Copts were injured in the clashes.
comes at a crucial moment for the Coptic Orthodox Church as the frail Pope
Shenouda III is away for medical treatment in the U.S.
El-Hennawy in Cairo
Source : Los