News / Middle East

Coptic Christians Targeted in Egypt Violence

Coptic Christians run inside the main cathedral in Cairo as police fire tear gas during clashes with Muslims in this April 7, 2013, file photo.
Coptic Christians run inside the main cathedral in Cairo as police fire tear gas during clashes with Muslims in this April 7, 2013, file photo.
Egypt’s military-appointed leaders are not doing enough to protect Coptic Christian churches from a surge of attacks unleashed by Islamists since the government crackdown on protest camps set up by the Muslim Brotherhood, according to foreign politicians and analysts.
 
They warn that the anti-Christian violence is being encouraged by top Islamists preachers overseas, including Sheikh Yusif al-Qaradawi, considered the spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi has urged retaliation against the Copts for their backing of the military’s ousting of president Mohamed Morsi.
 
Churches and Christian institutions as well as property owned by Copts have come under attack since the crackdown on supporters of Mohamed Morsi left hundreds dead, say Coptic leaders. Bishop Anba Suriel, the bishop for the Coptic Orthodox Church in Melbourne in Australia, wrote on his Twitter blog Wednesday there were “over 20 separate attacks on churches and Christian institutions all over Egypt.”
 
“These attacks on the Copts are unprecedented in the modern era,” said Suriel, who complained on his Twitter feed that the international media is failing to report adequately on the attacks.
 
Egypt’s state news agency has reported assaults on three churches in central Egypt, including the destruction of the Mar Gergiss church in Sohag on the west bank of the Nile. The city of Sohag has a large Coptic community.
 
Christians a sizeable minority
 
Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population, or well over eight million people. Hard-line Islamists blame Egypt’s Coptic Christian community for helping to oust Morsi, a prominent leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of Christianity’s oldest, founded in Alexandria around 50 AD.

On Wednesday, dozens of Morsi supporters stormed the 4th century Virgin Mary Monastery in the Upper Egypt village of Minya, breaking its main gate and firebombing the building, according to monastery officials. The attackers, who carried gasoline bombs, chanted slogans in support of Morsi.
 
Former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, a human rights campaigner who co-authored a report on threats against the Coptic Church, has urged Egypt’s army to “provide more protection to the Copts.” He warns the anti-Christian violence by hardline Islamists is taking place within “a general culture of impunity.”
 
The independent Mideast Christian News service has reported that several monasteries, churches, a Bible Society headquarters and Christian schools - Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Coptic - were attacked in Cairo, Upper Egypt, Sinai and the Suez, during a 48-hour period.
 
State Department monitoring
 
“We’ve obviously seen these reports and would express our deep concern about them,” Marie Harf, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, told reporters. “Clearly, any reports of violence we’re concerned about, and when it involves a religious institution, we are concerned about that as well.”
 
Egypt’s Copts have faced increasing violence over the years, but since the Arab Spring ouster of president Hosni Mubarak, there have been more incidents of attacks and threats against the Coptic community.
 
In January of 2011, a bomb attack on a Coptic Church in Alexandria left more than 20 people dead and more than 100 wounded. Last October, a Coptic protest over anti-Christian violence came under attack from the Egyptian military. Twenty-five people were killed and hundreds injured.
 
Violence increasing since Morsi ouster
 
But since President Morsi was removed from power by the military in early July, the violence has increased in frequency. The Coptic pope, Tawadros II, has received death threats and several Christians have been killed.
 
Coptic Pope Tawadros II says Christians felt sidelined in Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood rule.Coptic Pope Tawadros II says Christians felt sidelined in Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood rule.
x
Coptic Pope Tawadros II says Christians felt sidelined in Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood rule.
Coptic Pope Tawadros II says Christians felt sidelined in Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood rule.
Last month, four Coptic Christian men were killed by residents in Luxor on the Nile and scores of Christian homes torched and looted, according to the human rights group Amnesty International. The group said security forces were at the scene but failed to stop the violence. Amnesty urged the new Egyptian authorities “to break the pattern of failure to act and cover-up which has characterized successive governments’ responses to sectarian violence.”
 
Jihadists have also been adding fuel to the sectarian fire, say analysts.
 
Earlier this month, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, said Coptic Pope Tawadros II wanted to establish a Coptic state in Egypt. And Sheikh Yusif al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, posted an online video saying that Christians “were recruited [by Egypt’s military] to kill innocent Muslims.”
 
Christian leaders are worried that Egypt’s new rulers will continue to be more focused on dealing with challenges to their own power than protecting the people and churches of a religious minority.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: David from: USA
August 18, 2013 10:45 PM
I'm so tired of people claiming Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood. First of all, I can't wrap my mind around how this so-called fringe group got the majority of votes. But the bottom line is that Obama respected the will of the Egyptian people who voted.

But besides that, I am not accepting that administration's callous and bigotry against the Christians. I am also disappointed by Obama's silence on this issue. His silence is more about the stupid "real politik" approach. Support the "institution" of fairness and equality even when it's clearly being violated.

Obama needs to be more vocal in support of Christians, and you annoying anti-Obama crybabies need to stop encouraging more discord with your baseless opportunistic accusations.


by: crashtestdummy52@hotmail. from: El Paso, TX
August 16, 2013 10:38 AM
Thanks to Obama's support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptians hate us more than ever. Can't blame 'em! We should not be sending ANY AID to Egypt and yet BO is sending another 1.5 BILLION to them. My question is.....Who is getting that 1.5 Billion?

by: pilisugsug from: USA
August 15, 2013 10:13 PM
This is ridiculous. Our president supported the Muslim brotherhood. My question is why? Their history is nothing but violence. This radical group is like a modern day Nazi regime. It just astounds me that Obama would send aid to the Muslim brother. Or does Obama have a secret agenda? This radical group wants the total destruction of the Jewish people. And it seems to me the Obama knows this and doesn't care. His promise to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon might be just rhetoric too. Is there something wrong here? Or is this just my illusion. I believe our president planned this a long time ago. And we the American be are now becoming aware of his plan. God help America.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs