Christian-Muslim Rift in Egypt
Egyptians march in Cairo on 9 Oct. during a protest against an attack on a church in southern Egypt. At least 26 people, mostly Christians, were killed when troops broke up the peaceful protest. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany, Reuters)
04 Nov 2011 by Catholic News Service
FRIBOURG, Switzerland (CNS) — The patriarch
of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt blamed Islamic
fundamentalists for the increasing number of attacks on
Christians and criticized a growing division between
Muslims and Christians since the countrys February
Speaking Oct. 30 at St. Nicolas Cathedral in
Fribourg, Switzerland, during a day of prayer for
persecuted Catholics, Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Coptic
Catholic patriarch of Alexandria, said the links between
Muslims and Catholics that were reinforced in the period
just after the revolution have deteriorated.
Today, Islamic fundamentalists have come out of
the woodwork, and there are recurring attacks on
Christians, Cardinal Naguib said.
The attacks left dozens dead and created a gulf
between Muslims and Christians, which is being
continually widened under the influence of fanatical
leaders, he said during the event organized by the
Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
The cardinal said the unity that existed during the
revolution, which saw Christians and Muslims praying
together in churches and mosques for peace and a return to
order, has virtually ended.
Cardinal Naguib pointed to the 2010 Synod of
Bishops on the Middle East decision not to apply the word
persecution to the plight of Christians in the region and
said they have faced prohibitions imposed by the Quran
and Islamic Shariah law.
Earlier, in an interview with the Aid to the Church
in Need news agency, Coptic Orthodox Bishop
Estaphanos of Beba, Samasta and El Fashn said daily
vexations have included demands for a boycott of
Christian shops and refusal to employ people without
veils over their heads. He said he believed attempts were
under way for a general expulsion of Christians.
Christians in Egypt are experiencing their worst
period in centuries — the Egyptian media are trying to
cover up the attacks, so the international media wont
provide information about the real situation and there
wont be pressure from outside, he told news agency.
About three weeks earlier, 30 Christians were
killed and more than 320 injured by security forces during
a protest against discrimination in Cairos Maspero
The attack was the latest against the mostly Coptic
Christian minority, which makes up a tenth of the 81
million inhabitants of Egypt, where the peaceful February
revolution ended the 30-year dictatorial rule of President
In his Fribourg homily, Cardinal Naguib said
evidence suggested the October Cairo incident had been
planned. He said television reporters had incited attacks
against peacefully demonstrating Christians and that
Egyptian authorities later blamed the Copts for the
Acts of violence are being committed against
Christians and churches, without action by the authorities
or sanctions against the guilty, he said.
In other violent incidents, 12 Christians were
killed and almost 200 injured during the torching of two
churches in Cairo in May, while a church was attacked in
Aswan province Sept. 30.
Tags: Egypt Middle East Christians Christian-Muslim relations Coptic Church