Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Youthful Copts embrace martyrdom in face of church restrictions, violence

Though speculation regarding constraints and discrimination Coptic Christians in Egypt have faced in the past 35 years broadly differs, currently, “matters are getting worse,” according to Bishop Morcos Aziz Zakariya of the Hanging Church in Masr el-Qadima, Cairo, as reported on EARTHtimes.org.

Archaic laws that restrict the building and restoring of churches have led to numerous disputes. A church has to be away from the Nile, creeks, water facilities, another church, mosques, railway stations, important monuments and government property. To commence restoration work, a church, matter how old, must find property rights.

“I can give you hundreds of examples of churches not granted permits when they were in dire need of restoration,” Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, leader member of the Wafd Party, said.

Both Copts and Muslims have been calling for a modern unified law for all places of worship for 35 years, and a draft of this law is expected to be viewed by parliament at the end of its summer recess.

Besides disputes over churches, many Copts, especially the youth, have begun to perceive any violent incident as a threat and as systematic oppression. In turn, Copts have started embracing “a culture of martyrdom,” Rafiq Habib, a Christian but not a Copt, said. On a forum on the website Free Copts, Christian victims of internal clashes in Egypt are called martyrs.

Other Christians refuse to consider “discrimination” as the sole reason behind the Coptic agitation; Father Safwat al-Bayadi, head of the Egyptian Anglican Church, attributes the troubles to the fact that “people are suffering in general.”

“Young people are fed up and are unable to speak out. They are poor and unemployed, this is why fight one another,” Bayadi said.

For the full article, click here.


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