The New York Times has posted a startling report on just how difficult life has become for many Christians living in Egypt. Despite the insistence from officials within the Muslim government that “everything is good” in regards to relations between Muslims and Christians (who make up just 10 percent of the overall population), Christian leaders paint a very different picture.
The article contains some disturbing stories of homes being burned, Christians being attacked and murdered and churches being vandalized. In one incident, described as a turning point, “An older Christian woman was stripped naked by a mob, which had been incited by reports that the woman’s son was having an affair with a Muslim.” Christian leaders denied the claim was even true.
In many cases, police and law enforcement have done little to stop the violence or punish those responsible.
A local Christian leader told the paper, “We are at a breaking point. People can’t put up with any more of this.”
Leaders within the government, including the imam in charge of keeping the peace between the two communities, are flatly denying that the persecution even exist. He told the NYT: “There’s no conflict. The problem is really with the journalists writing about it.” Discuss
A 3-year-old boy has been sentenced to life in prison for a crime he allegedly committed when he was 16 months old. Kids these days. In an apparent case of mistaken identity, a toddler was among the 115 people a military court in Egypt found guilty of killing three people and sabotaging public and private property. The crimes took place during the protest supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsy in 2014. Ahmed Mansour Qorany Sharara, who was 16 months old at the time, was also sentenced to additional three years for related charges by a civilian misdemeanor court. When police arrived at Ahmed's home to arrest the young criminal, authorities realized he was a toddler and took his father, Mansour Qorany Sharara, instead. He was detained for four months before a judge released him.
This mistake is just one of the many apparent blunders of this case. Two others accused of the crime were out of the country when it took place. Lawyers of other defendants have presented Ahmed's birth certificate to the court in hopes of discrediting the investigations that led to their clients' arrests. One of the lawyers, Abu Kaf, told CNN, "Security submitted their investigations 24 hours after the incident took place, naming 116 defendants. We wanted to tell the judge that these are invalid investigations and our proof is the inclusion of the child and a man who was out of the country when the incident in question took place among the defendants."
The guilty verdict has caused public outrage. "How could people trust justice if they see this?" TV presenter Wael El-Ebrashy said as he interviewed Sharara on Saturday. In Egyptian courts, mass sentencing has apparently become common. In 2014, over 1,000 people were sentenced to death in cases involving the deaths of two police officers during protests. Abu Kaf said that "most cases involving big events are based on investigations and no tangible evidence. We've seen cases where defendants were either deceased years before the incident or in prison when it happened."
While officials insist that Ahmed and his father would not be jailed, the Sharara family is still being questioned by authorities. Mansour says he is still worried his son will be imprisoned. Discuss
This weekend, all 224 people aboard a Russian passenger plane died when it mysteriously crashed over Egypt. Now, an executive from Kogalymavia airlines has told reporters that they believe "an external influence” caused the plane to break into pieces mid-flight. According to his statement, officials have ruled out “technical problems and reject human error"—which is contrary to initial reports from Egyptian media. Officials in both countries however say that claims of responsibility from ISIS militants are without merit. The plane was in the air only 20 minutes when ground control personnel said it vanished from radar, and, according must have experienced “a mechanical impact.” Recording and tracking devices on the plane have been recovered from the crash scene, though officials are still in the process of mining the data. The Egypt Prime Minister's Office also released several images (like this one from Suliman el-Oteify) showing officials investigating the scene of crash. Discuss
Egyptian prosecutor Hisham Barakat—who has brought thousands of Islamists to trial including former president of Egypt Mohammed Morsi—has been killed after a convoy he was traveling in was struck by a car bomb. Many of the individuals and Muslim Brotherhood supporters he prosecuted were sentence to death or life in prison. According to the BBC, ISIS has called for new attacks against Egyptian officials after the government recently hanged six ISIS fighters. Discuss
On Sunday, ISIS released a video that reportedly depicted the beheading of 21 Christian Egyptian men by masked militants. The video of the kidnapped men—which was believed to have been filmed in Libya—was titled "A Message signed with blood to the nation of the cross." The global security firm Flashpoint told NBC News, "This undeniably means that the group now views Christian populations as not only targets but also part of the bigger 'Crusader plot,' not separate from the US-led coalition or aggressors." The militants made references to wanting to “conquer Rome,” underscoring the religious motivations of the executions.
They referred to their victims as “people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church," and the clip included a caption addressing the video as a “message signed with blood to the nation of the cross.” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi issued a statement wishing condolences to the families of the victims, calling for a 7-day period of mourning and promising to help evacuate Egyptian citizens from Libya. Over night, the Egyptian military launched a series of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya. The country’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement explaining, "Leaving the situation as it is in Libya without a firm intervention to curtail these terrorist organizations would be a threat to international peace and security" ... Discuss
Four people were killed—including an 8-year-old girl—and 17 were wounded yesterday in the latest attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt. According to witnesses, two gunmen on a motorcycle took part in a drive-by shooting as wedding guests were leaving a Christian church in Cairo. The country’s Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi issued a statement following the attack, condemning violence against the religious minority, saying such acts will "not succeed in sowing divisions between the nation's Muslims and Christians." Since the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi back in July, Christians have increasingly been the targets of violence and discrimination. After an Aug. 14 raid on protest camps of supporters of Morsi, 40 Coptic Christian churches were destroyed by Islamic groups, many of whom blame the Christians for the coup that led to the removal of Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. Following this weekend’s attack, the top cleric at the Sunni Muslim institute, Al-Azhar University, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, issued a statement calling the violence “a criminal act that runs contrary to both religion and morals" … Discuss