For the past three and half decades, the Copts (Christians of Egypt) have been targeted by a wave of brutal attacks on their persons, churches, homes and businesses. Ibn Khaldoun Research Center (headed by Human Rights advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim documented over one hundred and twenty major attacks on the Copts during this period. Another study estimated that over 4000 Copts were killed or injured during this period, not to mention the material losses, in tens of Millions of Dollars, and the state of fear and mass immigration that followed.
One phenomenal one can’t help but observe is that much of these attacks took place after attending the Muslim Friday prayers in mosques. Most significant, also, is that the vast majority of these attacks were not committed by organized terrorist groups, but by seemingly ‘ordinary’ people from the neighborhood, under the influence of hate propaganda emitted through the media, the education system and mosque preaching. The Egyptian justice system has yet to adequately punish a single Muslim perpetrator.
The latest attack on Friday May 11, 2007 in Bamha, 15 miles south of Cairo, was a result of a rumor circulated among the Muslims that the Copts of the village were planning to convert a house, which they used (with the authorities’ knowledge) for prayers, into a church. The Muslim worshippers were incited by the Imam of the mosque and a few other fanatics to rise and defend Islam against the ‘Christian infidels.’ A Muslim mob estimated to exceed 500, went on a rampage using fireballs, knives and hatchets that resulted in burning 27 homes and shops owned by Copts. At least 10 Copts, including several women, were injured; one of the victims is in a serious condition.
The developments that followed were even more serious. The frightened Copts were expecting the authorities to insure their safety, security and justice; but what took place simply added insult to injury. The authorities conducted a meeting of “reconciliation” between the victim Copts and the aggressors, where an imposed settlement virtually stripped the Copts of all rights: Under the terms of the settlement, Muslims were not bound to pay for damages nor assume any criminal responsibility; and the house which was the center of dispute would be used only for Sunday school classes and the cross may not be displayed on the building.
Once again, the Egyptian Government forgoes its duty to prosecute lawbreakers and guarantee the safety of its citizens. And, once again, the Copts are denied basic justice and the fundamental right to pray in peace without been harassed. Ironically, only days after the Bamha incident, Egypt became a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council!
We ask all freedom-loving governments, Human Rights organizations and individuals of the world to intervene on behalf of the Coptic Christians of Egypt. The reprehensible failure of Egypt to guarantee religious freedom, justice and accountability towards the Copts simply amounts to an invitation to continue the same against them in the future.
American Coptic Association
Christian Copts of California
International Coptic Federation
Middle East Freedom Forum
Canadian Coptic Association
Canadian Egyptian Organization for H.R
Coptic Center of France
Coptic Community of France
European Coptic Association
French Coptic Association
United Copts of Great Britain
U.K. Coptic Association
Australian Coptic Association
Source: Mounir Bishay, Coptic Organizations Worldwide, 310-641-3387, [email protected]