Yesterday 16 January, Egypt’s Supreme Committee to Confront Sectarian Incidents convened to look into the attack against the Coptic villagers of Manshiyet Zaafarana in Minya, some 250km south of Cairo, and the closure of their only church. The incident took place on Friday 11 January, and has generated wide Coptic outrage and wrath.
Presidential advisor for security and counter terrorism affairs, General Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar, who heads the Committee presided over the meeting.
The Committee stressed that citizenship rights are the cornerstone for building a strategy to deal with incidents that stand to shake the solidarity of Egypt’s internal front and incite sedition. It also emphasised that the law should be upheld to confront any violations, and that all anti-discrimination and anti-hate rules and laws must be enforced.
The Committee asked to meet with Minya Governor and the Foreign Minister’s deputy for human rights.
A day earlier, on 15 January, the Cabinet had denied that any church in Minya had been closed, basing on information submitted by Minya Governor Qassem Hussein. The denial had raised the ire and anger of Copts on social media, especially given that the priests of the Minya diocese of Samalout had demanded in a recent letter to the Interior Minister that closed churches be reopened, citing the details of six churches that had been closed in Samalout
by Minya security authorities. And that was only in the diocese of Samalout; churches in other regions of Minya had also been closed. The information given by Minya Governor to the Cabinet was this untrue, the Copts said; they accused him of deluding the Cabinet.
The Supreme Committee to Confront Sectarian Incidents was formed upon a decree by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on 29 December 2018. It is headed by the presidential advisor for security and counter terrorism affairs, and includes as members representatives of the armed forces’ operations authority, the military and general intelligence departments, the administrative supervisory authority and the national security authority.
The committee’s function is to develop a general strategy to prevent and confront sectarian incidents and to follow up on its implementation. The committee will also deal with sectarian incidents as they occur. It is answerable to the president.
17 January 2019