Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Egyptian Leaders Break Their Word... Again.

On the morning of April 14, as he was exiting the main gate of Al-Quidissin Church in Alexandria, Noshi Atta Girgis was stabbed to death by an assailant who cried out "There is no God but Allah," and called the Christians "infidels." That same morning, two other churches were also attacked by knife wielding assailants. While only Girghis was killed, over a dozen others were wounded.

Egyptian leaders were quick to condemn the church knife attacks and arrested Mahmoud Salahedin Abdul-Razik and claimed that the mentally disturbed man had single-handedly attacked three churches on opposite sides of town all in the same morning. This ludicrous explanation alone was insulting to those who suffered from the assaults. It defies logic and common sense to suggest that an armed, blood covered, mentally unstable man could travel such distances to three separate churches and not be stopped.

Egypt's Christians were understandably upset following the attacks and demonstrated their displeasure for two days. In response, Egypt's parliament announced the formation of a fact-finding committee, headed by Deputy Speaker of the People's Assembly Dr. Zeinab Radwan. Their task was to investigate the cause of the attacks and report its findings within 30 days.
Thirty days have come and gone. The result? Nothing. In fact, the committee has not even been formed.

Yet again, the Egyptian government has gone through the motions of claiming to protect its Christian minority by making the right noises for the international community when attention is focused on the country. But afterwards, when world attention shifts, they do nothing to bring to justice the perpetrators. Even worse, they often side with the persecutors and further oppress their victims. We have seen this repeatedly in past attacks. Often when arrests are made, it is Christians who are arrested, even when they are innocent bystanders or the victims of the violence. The most grievous example in recent years took place in early January 2000 when 21 Coptic Christians were slaughtered, dozens more were wounded and hundreds had their homes and businesses destroyed in three days of boldly violence at the hands of local Muslims. Not one Muslim was ever convicted.

It is time that we demand that the Egyptian government keep its word and investigate the April 14 attacks, as they promised to do. I strongly encourage you to write to your government leaders and urge them hold Egypt to account for their continued negligence in upholding the rights of their Christian citizens.

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