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Egypt seeing “worst persecution of Christians since 1321”

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Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has said that according to a source in Egypt, Christians are experiencing their worst persecution for hundreds of years in the wake of the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.

Around 60 churches have been targeted by Islamists, as well as Christian homes, businesses and an orphanage.

Accounts

Bishop Nazir-Ali said: “The accounts I’m getting from Christian leaders are the exact opposite of what we’re seeing in the media. 

“What we have had are not only peaceful demonstrators, but the use of mosques as arsenals with women and children being used as a shield.

“This is a well known tactic of radical Islamists all over the world and we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s being used also in Egypt.”

“Conspiracy”

Islamists are reportedly blaming Coptic Christians for “conspiring” in the removal of Morsi.

Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, explained: “Since 30 June, rhetoric has been wrapped up in speaking about Christians being a source , of this being a Coptic conspiracy, and Christians wanting to make Egypt a Christian country and eradicating Islam: all those are very senseless.

“That has an effect. People vandalise and attack churches, Christian households, shops and businesses, and they even go as far as killing.

“There has been an increase in attacks, as I said, because of incitement, very direct incitement, by the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist leadership.”

Attacks

Attacks have taken place across Egypt in recent weeks.

In Minya, Beni Suef, Fayoum and Assiut Christians have received leaflets from Islamists warning of reprisals if they don’t leave.

Christian homes in Minya have been marked with black ‘X’s to single them out for attack.

According to a report by Associated Press, a Franciscan school in Beni Suef was attacked and looted. Three nuns were paraded “like war prisoners” and two other female employees were sexually harassed and abused.

The Egyptian Bible Society building in Assuit was razed to the ground and in Suez the church and school of the Good Shepherd were set on fire. Islamists blocked the road to prevent fire trucks from reaching the buildings.

Also in Suez, St Saviour’s Anglican church was attacked. Morsi supporters threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the church and destroyed the car of the priest in charge, Ehab Ayoub.

Disruption

The violence has led to the disruption of worship services. Pope Tawadros has had to cancel his weekly lecture to his congregation, an initiative instituted by the late Pope Shenouda.

“When you have thousands of people in a confined space anything can happen,” said Bishop Angaelos, “and for obvious reasons we would not want to subject anyone to that sort of risk.

“In the current state it is the wise thing to do to not have people congregate in such large numbers where they are more vulnerable.”

A monastery in Degla did not hold prayers on Sunday for the first time in 1,600 years.

Worst persecution

Bishop Nazir-Ali reported: “One church leader told me demonstrators were going through localities firing indiscriminately at people as they passed through.

He added: “I’ve just received reports from a Christian commentator who’s saying that this is the worst persecution of Christians in Egypt since 1321, including the burning of churches and attacks on monasteries. 

“One monastery has been burnt and those who burnt it said ‘this is now a mosque’.

“There have been attacks on Christian bookshops, schools and on the homes of priests and pastors.”

Bishop Michael has also written a blog for the Telegraph on the situation in Egypt. Read it here >

Sources:

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

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