Problems on hold
On 22 September 2013 Watani launched a donation fund for the benefit of the Copts who had suffered losses on account of the nationwide attacks waged against them at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) on 14 August 2013.
The story goes back to 30 June 2013 when the Egyptian people went out in a 30-million-strong nationwide peaceful revolution demanding the overthrow of the one-year-old Islamist MB regime that had risen to power in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring. The military gave the Islamist president, MB Muhammad Mursi, an ultimatum to resolve the crisis to save the country from civil war; Mr Mursi belligerently rejected it and on 3 July 2013 was overthrown by the military. A roadmap for a democratic future in Egypt was jointly drawn by the Armed Forces, al-Azhar, the Church and all factions of the Egyptian community, and went into effect the following day, 4 July 2013. The MB and their supporters retaliated by violent demonstrations and threats of terrorist attacks against Egypt. They held two sit-ins in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Nasr City, East of Cairo, and Nahda Square in Giza, demanding that Mr Mursi be reinstated as president. The sit-ins lasted for five weeks during which they spearheaded violent acts and became hotbeds for out-of-law activity. Egyptians cried out against them and demanded that they should be disbanded; the police sent out several calls for the MB to disband the sit-ins but to no avail. On 14 August the security forces finally disbanded the sit-ins using violence to counter the fierce resistance they were met with. The MB retaliated by venting their anger against the Copts; it was obvious the revenge had been planned beforehand since it was conducted in the same pattern and manner nationwide, but was especially violent in Upper Egypt. Egyptians, Copts as well as Muslims, had all joined forces to regain their Egypt from the claws of the Islamists, but the MBs decided to punish Copts whom they resented for having played an active role in the revolution against them. The MB attacked the Copts’ churches, homes, lands, property and businesses; plundering, looting, destroying, burning, torturing and even killing. [http://en.wataninet.com/egypt-arab-spring/egypt-post-30-june/avalanche-of-hate/1292/]
Copts bore the brunt of the biggest share of Islamist terrorist blows, simply because they were Christian. But for Islamists, attacking the Copts held the added value of potentially dividing the nation; it was expected that the Copts would rebel in rage at the calamity which befell them and which the new anti-Islamist authority could not save them from. What the Islamists never foresaw, however, was that the Copts would see through their attacks, and decide thus to hold their peace rather than sow division in Egypt. The date 14 August 2013 will go down in the recent history of Copts as the day which saw the ultimate sacrifice they offered their motherland. Terrorism could neither oust Copts from the national ranks nor lure them into seeking international help. They licked their wounds and resumed their lives, praying in their ruined churches and sticking to their faith that God will not forsake them.
Watani could not overlook the fact that the Coptic victims of terrorism were in dire need of compensationfor the loss of family providers, homes, or sources of income. This did not include the churches because the State had clearly committed itself to help rebuild all the churches that had been ruined, destroyed or burned. Watani worked to compile lists and data of the victims and losses, as well as the compensation needed
On 3 November 2013 Watani published this detailed list. [http://en.wataninet.com/egypt-arab-spring/egypt-post-30-june/watani-launches-compensation-fund-for-coptic-victims/1304/] The compensation required amounted to a staggering EGP65.5 million; Minya topped the list at EGP42.8 million worth of losses. Sensing the pressing obligation it could not turn its back on, Watani launched a compensation fund for the victims. [http://en.wataninet.com/opinion/editorial/aiding-the-victims/1329/]
Generous donations poured in, but did not cover the enormous amount needed. Five months after the fund was launched, the amount raised stood at EGP850,000 which represented 1.2 per cent of the targeted amount. At the time I wrote to inform the readers of the situation and pointed out that it was imperative to patiently wait and extend the maturity of the compensation fund for two reasons. First, to intensify efforts to swell the fund and, second, to exclude cases which had already received compensation from other institutions or individuals and were able to resume their lives. Our aim was to reduce the number of beneficiaries, in the hope that the amount available would allow us to graciously compensate the victims still in need of help. The fund continued to grow, albeit slowly till the end of 2015. By then it amounted to little less than EGP1.15 million, and the compensation needed went down to EGP19.8 million spread over three governorates: Minya, Assiut and Luxor.
Even though the amount collected to date fails to honour the targeted compensation, and given that there are no longer any new donations, it is time for Watani to distribute what was entrusted to it to the rightful beneficiaries. The Watani committee in charge of managing the fund has compiled a proposal to distribute the collected sum to the victims, and will shortly get in touch with the beneficiaries. In accordance with Watani’s policy of transparency, we will promptly print detailed lists of the names of the beneficiaries and the amount handed to each.
Watani hopes it has thus done its bit in helping compensate the victims of terrorism, and redeems itself from the trust placed in its hands as represented in the Copts Compensation Fund.
7 August 2016