Egyptian army reclaims cities from Islamist control

Source: FSSPX News

On August 14, 2013, Delga in the province of Minya fell into the hands of the Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Morsi, who was forced out of power on July 3. They ruled its 120,000 citizens while exacting “jizya” from the 20,000 Christian residents—a tax levied on non-Muslims entitling them to “protection from the Islamic ummah, or community. In the meantime rioters set a number of churches on fire, accusing the Copts of involvement in Morsi’s fall.

The Middle East News Agency reports that on September 16th the army intervened at dawn with armoured vehicles and helicopters. Soldiers searched houses, confiscated a large number of weapons and arrested 56 people. The Copts had been living in a state of siege ever since the Islamic takeover established a reign of terror; three churches and dozens of Christian residences were burnt down; 28 Coptic protesters were killed on October 9, 2011, and the Maspero youth association, a Coptic group from the same neighbourhood, stated that 17 churches were attacked in the province of Minya.

The army and the police force launched a joint offensive on September 19th against Kerdassa, a city near Cairo held by pro-Morsi Islamists since mid-August, when a police station was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade and 11 officers were killed. The combined forces of the police and the army entered the city in the early morning. “They will not leave until the city is cleansed of terrorists and its criminal elements destroyed,” stated the spokesman for the Minister for the Interior to state media. 140 suspects were sought by the forces in the city.

On another front, the army executed an operation against nearby al-Qaeda groups spreading terror in the peninsula of Sinai. Bombs exploded and shots were exchanged in the valley of the Nile. The authorities say they are engaged in a new war against terrorism, targeting Islamic extremists. State journalists call the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leadership has been cut off since July 3, enemies of the State. It is estimated that at least 2000 persons, chiefly supporters of Mohamed Morsi, have been arrested since he fell from power.

The Committee of 50, which is reviewing the Constitution suspended by the army when Morsi was ousted, may revise the section that limits religious freedom. Mohamed Salmawy, spokesman for the Committee, stated at a press conference held September 16th in Cairo that “it is very important that the new Egyptian Constitution be amended to guarantee the right of freedom of worship to adherents of the various world religions.” The Coptic Orthodox patriarch Tawadros II expressed the desire that the terms “Egyptian Christians and Jews” in the draft be replaced by “non-Moslems”. Section 3 of the Constitution stipulates, “For Egyptian Christians and Jews, the principles of their religious laws are the main source of legislation in personal and religious matters, as well as in the choice of their spiritual leaders.” Critics of the 2012 Constitution point out that Section 3 leaves an opening for discrimination against other minorities, such as Shiites and Bahais.

Egypt, which has the largest population of all Arabic countries, has been living in a state of emergency since August 14, and a curfew is enforced throughout most of the country.

(Sources: – misna – Reuters – DICI no. 282, 04/10/13)

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