Egypt: Christian population extremely concerned by the temporary constitution

Source: FSSPX News

The adoption of a new temporary constitution the night of July 8, after the fall of President Mohamed Morsi,  intended to last at least six months, has caused concern among a number of Christian Egyptian legal experts. “We are concerned. The tendencies in the old constitution that were so objectionable to Christians have been confirmed in this new document,” stated the Coptic Catholic bishop of Minya, Bishop Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, speaking to the Vatican news agency Fides.

The Coptic Orthodox Church has commissioned a body of Christian legal experts and politicians to prepare a memorandum assembling its objections to the temporary constitution, announced Fides on July 11. The commission includes among its members former member of parliament Susie Adly and legal expert Amir Ramzy. Bishop Kyrillos William, Coptic Catholic bishop of Asyut, hopes “that this initiative will be followed by others, coordinated by Egypt’s Christian churches and communities acting together, making use of the National Council of Christian Churches that was recently established. Christians must face the difficult times our country is experiencing together.”

Bishop Anba Thomas, Coptic Orthodox bishop of el-Qusiya in Upper Egypt, defended the deposition of Morsi by the Egyptian army when he spoke to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): “We are happy that the army has taken up the torch. Christians have suffered greatly under the Muslim Brotherhood.” But he specified that “now, after their fall, the Muslim Brotherhood are threatening us directly. We Christians are an easy target for Islamic extremists. Terrorist threats from extremist groups will continue.”

Even before the suppression of the protests in favour of Morsi that assembled on Al-Nahda and Rabia Al-Adawiya Squares, violence against Copts was frequent; it broke out when Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of al-Qaeda, accused the US of plotting with the Egyptian army and the Coptic minority to overthrow Islamic president Morsi. Seeminly coordinated attacks on Coptic and Protestant churches, Coptic schools, and Christian homes and businessed took place on August 14th and 15th in Cairo, Alexandria, Asyut, Sohag, and Minya.

Leaders of the Christian churches in Egypt have listed the Christian edifices attacked and set afire by Islamics during August 14 – 17 2013: 49 churches and Christian religious institutions were targeted by Islamic militants. This list was published on August 18th by Catholic news agency AsiaNews in Rome. Fanatics attacked 30 Coptic Orthodox churches, 14 Catholic convents and churches, and 5 Protestant churches, all of which were seriously damaged or completely destroyed. To this list must be added the offices of the Bible Society in Aysut and Faiyum, and it does not account for the buildings and businesses owned by Christians that were attacked, particularly in Minya and Luxor. General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, commander-in-chief of the Egyptian army, has ordered that the churches and religious institutions affected be rebuilt, and has promised to assign army engineers and architects to the task.

Father Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Coptic Catholic Church, said that the majority of the Egyptian population is opposed to the return of the Muslim Brotherhood to power, since they are only “a minority on the country’s political landscape.” “To speak of an Egypt divided in half is incorrect. On one side there are the Islamists, who make up less than 5% of the population; on the other, there are those who took to the streets on June 30 [to call for Morsi’s resignation], where a variety of political movements exist, including conservative Muslims who reject the political agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“News in the West is highly selective and one-sided. It seems that the West wants to defend the Muslim Brotherhood, as if it were the West’s agent in the Middle East for economic and geopolitical reasons. In Egypt we are sickened, Christians and Muslims alike, by the position of Western governments who take the Muslim Brotherhood’s part as if they were the victims and not the executioners,” declared Father Henri Boulad, director of the Jesuit Cultural Centre of Alexandria, on the website “For years, people have been massacred, girls have been raped, children have been kidnapped by the Muslim Brotherhood: yet not a word from the international media!”

In a message posted on his website,, Patriarch Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, reaffirms his support for the army and his formal opposition to terrorism. “We strongly condemn the false reports spread by Western media, and we ask them to report on events objectively with regard to these radical and bloody organizations and their associates, instead of providing them with legitimacy through global support and political protection, while they attempt to spread devastation and destruction in our beloved country. We ask international and Western journalists to provide a thorough account of all events with truth, precision and honesty.”

Father Rafic Greiche, in the name of the Catholic bishops of Egypt, told Fides on August 19, 2013 that out of 58 churches attacked, 14 were Catholic while the rest were Coptic Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant. “Attacks on churches have taken place almost everywhere throughout the country, but were particularly rife in Minya and Asyut, because the headquarters of the jihadists responsible for the attacks is located there.”

(Sources:—Fides—ACN—AsiaNews—DICI no. 281, 13/09/13).

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