As clashes between the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood lead to bloodshed, the Christian Copts in Egypt are also suffering from violence.
The 17 million Christians in Egypt, a fifth of the population, have seen some 80 churches and monasteries set on fire since the beginning of last week, especially in southern villages and in Cairo and Alexandria. Western media outlets have reported the torching of some 50 churches and widespread looting, but Al-Wafd, the mouthpiece of a centrist secular party, has reported the number of events to be even higher.
Joseph Malak, an attorney heading a research center and human rights movement, as well as being one of the leaders of the Christian Copt community, told Haaretz that the arson was orchestrated violence. “The object of the Muslim Brotherhood, as we see it, is to cause terror and fear and push the country into a violent, ethnic struggle. They expect the Copts to react, thus leading the country into a dark tunnel, with no apparent solution.”
Malak says that the Copts did not fall into this trap: “People did not go out to demonstrate, and there were no acts of revenge; on the contrary, the head of the Christian Church clarified that the Copts would not react violently, but would rather do their best to seek calm and prevent bloodshed. He added that the churches set on fire were a sacrifice on the altar of the liberty of the Egyptian people.”
Attacks on Copts’ property and churches are a reoccurring phenomenon whenever there is an heated political struggle in Egypt.
For more, go to Haaretz