The farce of violence and sectarian discrimination must stop

The assault of Egyptian Christian citizens and their places of worship, the targeting of their money and property, and forced displacement from their homes became a repetitive and constant behavior that has not changed by changing governments since the 1970s, it adopted a speech encouraging discrimination against Egyptian citizens on the basis of religion since the president, at that time, Anwar Sadat declared that he was a Muslim president of a Muslim state and opened up a wide range for religious extremist currents that played a role in facing political currents that are opposed to power.

The amendment of Article II of the Constitution opened a wide door to deal with Christian citizens as if they were second-class citizens so every once and a while people listen to statements or announcements of officials in the executive branch as if they were logical such “the Coptic brothers” or “brothers Christians” as if these citizens are guests to their country.

This turned out into a legacy of legislative and administrative discrimination that became a reality that led to repeated incidents of violence against the Christian citizens with the impunity for the perpetrators. These incidents were repeated from Al-Kosheh until the last incident of Damshaw Hashem village in Al-Minya governorate.

In face of a failure to the extent of security complicity, extremists are allowed to target Christian citizens and It ends also with secret sessions in which implicit recognition is made that the Christians are not entitled to build their houses of worship and practice their religious rituals and even displacement and sometimes some are imprisoned during events until it becomes as it was sectarian quarrels.

Despite the repeated attempts to preserve the image of national unity in Egypt, attacks on Egyptian Christians have become severely frequent, especially in the governorate of Al-Minya in which a group assaulted, robbed, then burned the houses of four Christian Egyptian citizens, last Friday, in the village of Dimshaw Hachim in addition to the injured Christian Egyptian citizens for praying in one of the houses claiming that they turned it into a Church.[1]

The security forces arrested 38 suspects and decided to refer 19 of them to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. They were charged with rioting, assaulting others and gathering, the prosecution ordered their preventive detention.

The recurrence of the attacks, especially in the governorate of Al-Minya, is due to the small number of churches compared to the geographical distribution of the population, forcing them to pray in private homes and making them vulnerable to attacks by extremists.
Two years have passed since passing the Law on the construction and restoration of churches[2], which was the first law to build houses of worship for the Christians for more than a century and a half.  However, there has been no change in reality.

Incidents of abuse were repeated in Al-Minya governorate which is the most populated of Christian citizens. There are villages inhabited only by Christian citizens in the consecration of sectarian discrimination. Unfortunately, statements were issued by executive and security officials who were blaming the victims for the attack; the authorities even persecuted Christians on the basis of a bizarre charge of praying without permission.

The Egyptian authorities must stop immediately any discrimination against Egyptian Christians, they must also activate the articles of the Constitution, which emphasizes non-discrimination against citizens an especially activate Article 53 of the Egyptian Constitution, which provides for the establishment of the Discrimination Commission. The Egyptian authorities must begin to take effective steps in the face of the media and religious discourses inciting to target Egyptian Christians.

DAAM center calls upon the Egyptian regime to respect the international treaties, joined by Egypt, which stipulates the freedom of every person to manifest their religion or belief through worship, observance, practice, and education, either individually or in community with others and in public or private[3].

DAAM Center hopes that the security forces have taken the law into account while apprehending the accused and that they are actually the perpetrators of the incident, not a random arrest, as is often the case in these situations.

DAAM also insists that space should be given for civil organizations to implement field studies to reach an answer for a specific question; what is the environment that encourages sectarian violence in Al-Minya governorate?

 


[1] archbishopric of  Al-Minya issued a statement on the clashes in the village of Damshaw Hashim, Attahrir, 31 August 2018 https://goo.gl/WXD7hG

[2] Text of the law on the construction and restoration of churches after the approval of Parliament, Alyawm Assabee, August 30th, 2016 https://bit.ly/2NnEKF8

[3] Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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