By Dr. Mohamed Aboul-Ghar
Published in al-Masry Al-Youm in Arabic on November 6th, 2017
While I was attending the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Scientific Congress on In-vitro-Fertilization IVF in Texas, USA, I received several unexpected phone calls and e-mails asking me to check the news in the Internet.
Despite a time-zone difference of seven hours I tried to follow the situation. The issue simply is that despite the agreement between the governor and the Bishop of Menya, as well as the decisions made at the highest level in the regime, that that harassment of Copts, the closure of churches, and the prevention of Copts from praying must immediately end, these have not been implemented. On the contrary, it is required that Copts who want to pray must ask for permission from the governor.
First: the State must respect the Constitution. However, this has not been the case. The state always implements what it wants to whether it is consistent with the law and the constitution or against it. In the case of the closure of the churches and prevention of praying, the order was clear, so why wasn’t the order executed? Was it because it was meant only to calm down the situation or is it that the state does not have the power to execute what it has decided? Which is a matter that is not consistent with in fairness, equality, justice, and the law. I really do not know whether the state is indifferent to the rights of the Copts or is unable to protect them.
Second: Copts existed in Egypt, for centuries before there was a single Muslim. Once the majority became Muslim, persecution of the Copts clearly occurred at different periods. However, since the 1919 revolution, the situation had improved, and citizenship became a right, and the construction of churches and prayer became a legal and normal matter, but it was also an accepted matter by the Muslim majority.
Third: The new trend in Egyptian society is to order the closure of churches and beat those who pray in them in some places, and destroy or perhaps burn them in other places. What is happening is caused by a group of extremists who are known by name and are in every village or small town who lead the attacks and incite a group of people with limited education and culture to carry out the aggression. This is further encouraged by the high percentage of unemployment combined with severe poverty.
Fourth: The strong leniency by the authorities represented in the governor and the security directors to clearly declare that whoever attacks the churches will be brought swiftly to justice, and the dependence for a long time on arbitrary reconciliation sessions have led to successive disasters. The local authority has no objection to the worsening of the problems, the closure of churches, and beating Copts provided that no one inside or outside Egypt knows what is happening.
Fifth: The international and global standing of the Egyptian regime suffers from real problems. This was evident during the visit of the president to France and what he said at the press conference. Why does Egypt want to worsen its international problems by not pursuing successful, real, and swift action by preventing attacks on Copts and their churches? Is it fear of Muslim fanatics, or is it the usual laxity of the police, or is it that Copts really are not important to the regime? Or is it that the current sentiment among the Copts, especially the poor among them, that they truly are second-class citizens?
Sixth: I read on Facebook that the US vice President will visit the region, including Egypt, to monitor and seek information regarding the situation of minorities in the region and the occurrence of any persecution. And I read that the Egyptian and foreign satellite channels have begun to talk about this subject. Some of them asked the regime to pay attention to this issue in the coming period so the visit goes well, while others called for putting pressure on the church and Copts’ leaders to say that all is well and could not be better. I was truly amazed when I read that since they don’t know that all of this has been translated, it has reached all those who are concerned in America!
Seventh: I am disturbed that a major campaign in the Egyptian satellite channels has not been launched to support the opening of churches, allowing prayers in them, and strongly condemning the attacks on them. It is incomprehensible that in a state where satellite channels cost the taxpayer and the authorities huge sums of money, the regime lets the channels talk to themselves, driving the audience to watch other channels. A large organized campaign that explains to people that this is the right of the Copts and that what fanatics are doing is fundamentally against the law. Religion should help the governor if his hand is trembling.
Eighth: I call on every governor in these regions to meet with the fanatics’ leaders, not to discuss the opinion of the Islamic religion on building churches and praying in them, but to make everyone understand that law, the Constitution, and the regime are all responsible for protecting the churches and the worshippers, that this behavior will not be permitted, and that attackers will be punished.
Ninth: The Ministry of the Interior must initiate an internal awareness campaign explaining that Muslims and Christians are equal, have the same rights, have the same duties, and that there will be no leniency if an attack is perpetrated on any Egyptian, Muslim, or Christian, all the same.
Tenth: Bishop Makarios of Menya is a rational and serene man who says the truth and announces attacks that happen on churches and people. And we must encourage him to tell the truth because without knowing the truth nothing will be repaired. The country is in danger, internal and external, and the economic crisis is crushing. We don’t need more disasters. Let us all stand as one group to apply the law and prevent the closure of churches and praying in them, because if we allow this, the next step is to demolish and burn them.
God be with you, Egypt.
Oh, Egyptian rise up, Egypt is calling on you.
Photo Credit: Daily News Egypt