Egypt Copts call on president for protection
Sun Jun 15, 12:21 PM ET
A 2007 file picture
shows his Holiness Pope Shenouda
III, the 117th Pope of the Seat of St.
(AFP) - Egypt's Coptic church has used unusually
strong language to call on President Hosni Mubarak
to guarantee Christians' safety after a violent attack on a monastery in which
four Copts were injured.
Coptic Ecclesiastical Council called on Mubarak
to prevent "more armed attacks on monks" and "insults to the cross," said a
statement carried by Egypt's press on Sunday.
follows a land dispute involving a historic monastery which turned violent on
May 31, leading to the death of a Muslim man who was reportedly attacking the
Copts, including two monks, were injured in the attack on the Abu Fana Monastery
near the southern city of Minya.
have sought to play down the incident, saying it was a personal rather than
clashes broke out when the monastery began building a wall around neighbouring
property after receiving final approval earlier this year.
residents of the area claim the agricultural land on which the wall is being
built as theirs, and say the structure damages their vital crops.
Copts -- the largest Christian community in the Middle East -- account for an
estimated six to 10 percent of the country's 76 million inhabitants and complain
of systematic discrimination and harassment.
often run high between Egypt's Muslim and Christian communities in an
increasingly religious society dominated by Sunni