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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs