PRESS RELEASE: Egypt – “It isn’t a religious conflict”

 Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

Montreal, October 28, 2013 – After an attack on Christians in Cairo Father Hani Bakhoum Kiroulos, secretary to the Coptic-Catholic Patriarch, rejected the view that Egypt was experiencing a religious conflict. “The idea that this involves a conflict between Muslims and Christians simply isn’t borne out by the reality. It’s not only Christians who are being attacked, but also state institutions,” the cleric stressed to the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need”. On Sunday, 20 October, unknown persons had fired at Coptic wedding guests and killed four people.

ACN-20131016-01802In Father Hani’s own words: “The attackers want to provoke us Christians into calling for western intervention, for instance from the USA or European countries. This would internationalize the conflict and disrupt national unity. On the other hand, their goal is to embroil the Christians in a civil war. But this tactic won’t work. We Christians have shown that we are genuine Egyptians.” The root of the problem, he continued, was that fundamentalists had no intention of respecting the wish of the majority of Egyptians for a civil and democratic state.

Three stages for overcoming the crisis

After the latest attack the Muslim Brotherhood had expressed their sympathy. Father Hani couldn’t judge whether this was honestly meant, “but I can say that during the rule of the Muslim Brothers many terrorists entered the country. We are now suffering from the consequences of their government.”

He went on to say that Sinai was full of terrorists. They were now active throughout the country. When asked whether the security forces were doing enough to protect the Christians, Father Hani said: “Police are stationed in front of many churches. But the terrorists mostly strike completely unexpectedly. This is a terrorist problem that affects all Egyptians equally, not only the Christians. Egypt is conducting a war on terrorism.”

According to Father Hani, Egypt can only overcome the present crisis following the deposition of President Morsi in three stages: “Firstly we need a new constitution and elections for the presidency and parliament. Secondly, the terrorist elements destabilising the country must be eliminated, and criminals must be punished. And thirdly there must be a genuine conciliation between all groups in Egypt. For this purpose the Muslim Brothers must put the interests of Egypt before their own. Only in this way will we be able to achieve a genuinely democratic and civil state.

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