Another Black Friday for Coptic Christians in Egypt

.- A coalition of Coptic Christians is calling on governments of the world to intervene on behalf of the Coptic Christians of Egypt and demand that Egypt stop religious persecution and guarantee religious freedom and justice for all citizens.

For nearly four decades, the Coptic Christians in Egypt have been targeted by a wave of brutal attacks on their persons, churches, homes and businesses.

The Ibn Khaldoun Research Center has documented over 120 major attacks on the Copts during this period. Another study estimated that over 4,000 Copts were killed or injured during this same period. They have also suffered material losses in the tens of millions of dollars.   

The researchers noted that many of these attacks took place on Fridays, after the Muslim prayer in mosques. As well, the vast majority of these attacks were not committed by organized terrorist groups, but by ordinary people from the neighborhood.

Researchers believe the violence takes place under the influence of hate propaganda emitted through the media, the education system and mosque preaching. They report that Egyptian authorities have yet to adequately punish a single Muslim perpetrator.   

The latest attack on May 11 was in Bamha, 15 miles south of Cairo. A coalition of Coptic organizations worldwide reported that it began as the result of a rumor circulated among the Muslims that the Copts of the village were planning to convert a house, which they used for prayers, into a church.

The Muslim worshippers were incited by the Imam of the mosque and a few fanatics to rise and defend Islam against the “Christian infidels.” A Muslim mob, estimated to exceed 500, went on a rampage using fireballs, knives and hatchets. They burned 27 Christian homes and shops. At least 10 Copt were injured.

Rather than pursuing and arresting the perpetrators, the authorities conducted a meeting of reconciliation between the victims and the aggressors, where an imposed settlement virtually stripped the Copts of all rights.

Under the terms of the settlement, Muslims were not bound to pay for damages nor assume any criminal responsibility. As well, the prayer house, which was the center of dispute, would be used only for Sunday school classes and a cross may not be displayed on the building.   

The coalition noted that, ironically, only days after the Bamha incident, Egypt became a member of the UN's Human Rights Council.  

Thirteen Coptic associations, from North America, Europe and Australia, are members of the coalition.

For photos of the violence in Bahma, visit:

www.flickr.com/photos/norayounis/sets/72157600211845855/show/

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