Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Equal rights to worship...or...?

I've lived in Egypt for over four years now, and of the time spent here, I worked for three years with the Arab-West Report. Stories of attacks against Coptic Christians by Muslims, or visa versa, are unfortunately not uncommon to my ears. The underlying truth behind most of the stories is that most incidents are simply disputes among a group, which is then turned into a religious debate.

Today, reports have surfaced of two dead in clashes between police and Coptic protesters in Giza governorate, just outside of Cairo. While I'm sure that there is more to the story than Al-Masry al-Youm will let on, I think it is of utmost importance that people within Egypt come together to prevent such squabbles even arising.

Take it into perspective for a minute, how many Muslims around the world have stood up and proclaimed that the right to build a Mosque, or Islamic Cultural Center, should be guaranteed and permitted under the U.S. Constitution, particularly when you take Freedom of Religious Belief into consideration. The calls are echoed by statements of the peaceful nature of Islam, and how Islam itself promotes the three monotheistic religions and an individual's right to practice their own religious ideals (assuming, of course, that it falls under the three main monotheistic religions...).

Don't get me wrong, until I know more details about the specific events that happened in Giza, I do not want to pass judgement. However, bringing the broad spectrum into light, is it not about time that the Copts in Egypt are given the same rights to build houses of worship as Muslims are around the world? Seeing that we're living in a democratic nation, and Copts constitute roughly ten percent of the total population, why is their right to worship freely so suppressed? In Hurghada, I have seen a greater concentration of Copts than I ever did in Cairo, yet I have not seen one Church. Not one. Sure, they exist, tucked away in little back alleys so as not to disturb the flow of things. It saddens me greatly. Has it really come to such a point where Copts are being pushed to build their houses of worship under the guise of something else, lest their permissions to construct be immediately denied?

Below is the article from Al-Masry al-Youm. I welcome any and all comments!

Two feared dead in Coptic protest over church construction

Photographed by AFP

Two Coptic protesters are suspected dead and scores more wounded in clashes between police and Copts over a decision to stop construction of a church in Giza, eye witnesses said.
Approximately 2000 Copts attempted to break into the Giza Governorate headquarters, while others attacked police and security vehicles, according to security officials.
Security repulsed the attempted infiltration, the officials said, adding that police have arrested 100 protesters and dispatched thousands of forces to Omraneyya and Talbeyya in southern Giza to prevent the spread of unrest.
Thousands of Copts organized a protest on Tuesday in rejection of the Giza Governorate decision to stop construction of the church. Officials said the building did not possess the appropriate permit.
Officials added that building authorization was approved for a service center, not a church.
Protests resumed on Wednesday with demonstrators hurling stones and bottles at security personnel. Security used tear gas to disperse the Coptic protesters.
Rally leaders called on authorities to stop intervening in the construction of churches and their restoration. Church building and restoration has been a controversial issue since both require approval from a governor. 
A government report published last year stated that Egypt has 2000 churches, compared with more than 93,000 mosques.
Copts constitute roughly ten percent of Egypt's total population of 79 million.
A security source said police are keeping the situation under control and have tightened security at the entrances and exits of Giza.

1 comment:

  1. it looks like they are removing rubbish from the street..if only.. well said hun x