Thursday, January 07, 2010

Coptic Christians killed and updates

The BBC is reporting ongoing clashes between Coptic Christians and security forces as the former went to a hospital to collect six bodies killed earlier after services celebrating Coptic Christmas in Nag Hammadi, 40 miles from Luxor in South Egypt. This is an ongoing story as the killings may have been retaliatory.

Update (4.45pm): this NY Times article by Mona El-Nagar gives a perspective on the situation of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

The general sentiment among Egypt’s Copts is that they are being squeezed into a tighter space, and there are increasing complaints of discrimination. They say, for example, that permits to build churches have become very difficult to obtain.

“There is a prevailing atmosphere of sectarianism and religious incitement which has led to this behavior,” said Gamal Asaad, a Coptic intellectual and former member of Parliament. “People deal with each other now as Muslims or Christians, not as Egyptians.”

And the Guardian has a phone video of the shootings outside the church.

This kind of article otoh is unhelpful. It contains generalizations when a specific situation in the south of Egypt needs to be the focus. Gulfnews has just reported a tolerant situation for Coptic Christians in Abu Dhabi over Christmas. This issue has traction. Yahoo news reports

Rushing to contain the fallout from the Nag Hamadi attack, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, top government officials and the country's top Muslim cleric visited Pope Shenouda III, the head of the Egyptian Coptic church, in a show of solidarity and possible to head off fresh Christian protests.

The official Egyptian news agency quoted Shenouda and Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, grand sheik of al-Azhar — the top learning center for Sunni Muslims — as saying the attack was unlikely to harm what they called the strong bonds between Egypt's Muslims and Christians.

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