Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Upper Egypt Skirmishes Reveal Depth of Copts’ Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55371646

An Egyptian Christian woman in a Coptic Orthodox church in Alexandria. Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters

Cairo- Egyptian security authorities have contained sectarian tension between Muslims and Christians in Upper Egypt and have arrested 15 people accused of involvement in the chaos that ensued a mass held by Christians in one of the village’s houses.

These developments reflect the seriousness of the “religious rhetoric” crisis only days after suicide attacks targeted two churches in the country and pushed the Coptic Church to cancel religious ceremonies that extend till Sunday.

Two suicide bombers blew themselves off in the churches in Alexandria and Tanta, killing 45 people and injuring dozens during Palm Sunday. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, compelling an official reaction aimed at stressing the unity of the national fabric in a country where Christianity is the second largest religion with around 10 million believers.

Sectarian tension occurs occasionally in Egypt over Muslim concerns on plans to build new Coptic churches or transforming houses into churches.

The Egyptian parliament enacted last year a law to organize the establishment of churches – this law was expected to end the violence resulting from the restoration or building of new churches.

But the “law is still incapable of putting an end to the crisis,” a church source to Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The House of the Egyptian Family,” which includes leaders from al-Azhar and the church, was established in 2010 to resolve sectarian crises.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced last Sunday a state of emergency following the two suicide attacks along with other procedures to eradicate terrorism.

But the tough security measures did not affect the number of Christians participating in the Good Friday mass.