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Scores of Churches Burned After Deadly Clashes in Egypt


ANN SCHNEIBLE

Source:
Zenit.org
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
8/16/2013

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ABSTRACTScores of Churches Burned After Deadly Clashes in Egypt | ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome Home About ZENIT The Agency Audience FAQ - Organization Services Copyright legal status Email Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS SUPPORT US NEWSLETTER Edition English Español Français Deutsch Italiano Português العربية Sign in Sign up The world seen from Rome Search Tweet News Headlines Sections News Interviews Life Watch Liturgy Rome Notes ... Columns Arts and Culture Benedict XVI Bioethics Ecumenism Faith and Reason ... Documents Benedict XVI's Documents Holy See Documents Cardinals' Documents Bishops' Documents Episcopal Conf. Docs. Various Documents The Pope Pope Francis Angelus / Regina Coeli General Audience Editorial ZENIT writers Kathleen Naab Father John Flynn, LC Junno Arocho Esteves Tools Sign up Subscribe Give ZENIT as a gift Profile Advertising Mailings Banners Contact General Contact us Write the editors Republishing permission Ideas Testimonies Advertising Technical help Donate A- A A+ Scores of Churches Burned After Deadly Clashes in Egypt Violence Continues in Cairo After Hundreds Killed Tweet Send Rome, August 16, 2013 ( Zenit.org ) Ann Schneible | 905 hits Supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi took to the streets of Cairo on Friday, just two days after hundreds were killed in clashes between protestors and security forces. Since Morsi was ousted on July 3, the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters have been calling for his reinstatement. The Egyptian president was removed from office after months of protests against his rule. Meanwhile, scores of Christian Churches have been attacked in the wake of Wednesday's violence, reportedly in retaliation for Morsi's ousting. In an interview with ZENIT, John Pontifex, head of press and information for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) spoke about the escalating situation in Egypt, and what this means for Christian communities in Cairo and throughout the country: ZENIT: In the days following the ousting of Mohamed Morsi, there were some reporting a sense of hope for change. Is there still this sense of hope after Wednesday's clashes which, as of last report, claimed the lives of more than 600 people? Pontifex: I appreciate that we are talking about a period of barely six weeks, but Egypt is now in a very different place to where it was just after President Morsi was ousted. We have seen a sudden and dramatic shift from political debate to full-scale violence with talk of this great country descending into Civil War. Morsi supporters and opponents were always at odds ideologically. What has changed is not only a complete breakdown of cooperation between the two but the emergence of raw anger and fear that has dire consequences regarding prospects for peace. There is a real concern now that the country could almost literally tear itself apart; as the passions have mounted, it has become clear that tens of millions are diametrically opposed in their struggle for the soul of the country. We have seen the vast crowds come out in support of Morsi but we must also remember the vast numbers perhaps 30 million or more who protested against the Muslim Brotherhood regime, encompassing the full spectrum of society. These are people who wanted at least a major change in the administrations policy agenda if not the downfall of the President himself. The one hope and indeed prayer is that what will prevail is the voice of those many people both Muslim and Christian who want to see the emergence of a tolerant country respectful of minority groups and where the dignity of the human person is safe-guarded. ZENIT: How are Christian communities being affected by the violence? Pontifex: I am still reeling from news received by us at ACN by the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate in Cairo giving a list of 23 attacks on Christian communities. These extend from Alexandria right down to Luxor, all the way out to Suez but centering on Upper Egypt. Bishops in the region have told us that the total figure is probably much higher. The date of Augustb14 2013 will be remembered for years to come. As well as churches set ablaze, there were attacks on Coptic pharmacies, clinics and schools. It is too early to make a proper assessment of the damage done but it is particularly distressing to read of the destruction of the Virgin Marys monastery in Delga Village, an institution that dates back to the third century. It is devastating to think that some of the churches that I saw when I went to Egypt as a guest of the Coptic Catholic Church are among those damaged and destroyed. It is even worse to think that those who kindly hosted our visit are among those whose lives now lie in tatters. On Friday, August 16, we at ACN spoke to Bishop Kyrillos William of Assiut whose diocese has been in the firing line. As well as spelling out the peoples fears about a continuation of the violence, he said the Copts are being falsely portrayed, he said, as key instigators behind t.......