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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora