7 March 2010
Copts, who face complicated procedures to build a church or even restore an old, ruined one, are ardently calling for a unified law for building places of worship. They wish to be on the same footing with Muslims who are allowed to build mosques without any restrictions whatsoever. The issue strongly brings to mind the decree issued by Switzerland prohibiting minarets—all minarets, not just those on mosques—which was based on a democratic survey held there. The decree stirred up deep anger among Muslims all over the world. Egyptian writers harshly criticised the decree, saying it contradicts the principles of freedom of belief. It was shocking to hear Egyptian MPs discuss the Swiss decree, yet not one mention any of the Coptic grievances regarding church building in Egypt or the violent attacks against Copts.
We only hope these writers ask the Egyptian authorities to lessen the limit on building and restoring churches so they can’t be accused of double standards.
Zarif Naguib, Cairo
The Egyptian media recently covered debates on all sides of the argument concerning building an underground wall on Egypt’s border with Gaza. Many strongly disapproved the wall out of support for the Palestinians. The government countered by saying the border needed protection because it was being used for terrorist actions, arms trafficking and drug-smuggling. Isn’t this reason enough for the government to take protective action for the benefit of all Egyptians? I wish to say that Egypt has every right to protect its borders, even from Arab neighbours. We can welcome visitors from Gaza without allowing them to hurt us.
Mohsen Mehanna Walaan, Cairo
It will not be the last
Unless the State changes its strategy regarding Copts’ and activates the principle of ‘citizenship’, the tragic Christmas Eve sectarian crime at Nag Hammadi will not be the last in the series of tragic events against Copts. The media and the public education system should be geared towards implementing the principle of that the Coptic ‘other’ has the same rights and commitments, which ought to be respected.
Nash’at Abul-Kheir, Alexandria
Mr President…we are your people
We—as Coptic Egyptians—are deeply sorry about what happened to the innocent Copts who were shot on Christmas Eve. It reminds us of the Luxor shooting in 1997 when several tourists were killed. At that time, President Mubarak took a positive attitude which was approved by public opinion both here and abroad. Unfortunately, neither the president nor any official from the Ministry of Interior has taken any procedures about Nag Hammadi. The massacre has raised a question that needs a logical answer: is Egyptian blood so cheap; is it not equal to foreign blood?
We were expecting you, Mr President, to be as strict as you were towards those who killed the foreigners. We were expecting at least a condemnation of the offenders who killed a number of your Coptic people.
No doubt there has been a failure in duty on the part of the minister of interior, the security apparatus, and the governor of Qena.
I call on all the nation’s intellectuals to initiate the implantation of the culture of accepting the ‘other’.
Nabil Taqawy, al-Kharga
No official responsible
Whenever a problem arises in civilised countries, the minister concerned hastens to announce his responsibility and may resign because of a mistake by a junior employee in his ministry. But in Egypt it is different; when two trains crashed the government asked the minister of transportation to resign. As for the latest incident in Nag Hammadi neither the minister resigned nor the government discharged him.
Michel Riad, Alexandria