- (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have condemned the massacre of peaceful protesters in Egypt and Syria, and have passed a resolution this week calling for authorities in the nations to do more to protect vulnerable and targeted Christian communities.
MEPs voted by a show of hands to pass the resolution on the escalating situations in Egypt and Syria, and highlighted in particular the recent slaughter of Christians in Egypt that saw dozens massacred by government army personnel.
In Egypt over the past six months reports have indicated that tens of thousands of Coptic Christians have fled the country. Most have left fearing for their lives as Islamic extremists attack Christian churches and residences with increasing regularity and ferocity.
Violence erupted in Cairo Oct. 9 when thousands of Coptic Christians gathered to protest against the burning of a Coptic church in Southern Aswan which took place on Sept. 30. The burning was carried out allegedly by local hard-line Muslims who claimed the church did not have the license for the construction of a dome.
Although intended to be peaceful, violence broke out when military personnel commenced a crackdown on the protest.
Mourners have blamed the Egyptian army for the high death toll, arguing that the Christian march was absolutely peaceful until the military started a crackdown. The ensuing clashes reportedly saw Islamic extremists join the attacks against the Christians, and even saw a military vehicle driven directly into crowds of protesters.
Some rights activists reported military personnel firing directly into the Christian crowds.
"They were armed with swords, sticks and stones - some of them had rifles, it seems," Father Rafic Greiche, official spokesman for the Catholic Church of Egypt, previously said in a statement.
"They did not have to use force. It was a peaceful demonstration," he added.
Question marks have also surrounded media in the region, as one state-controlled TV station admitted to making up news as the Coptic Christian protest was taking place. The false report stated that Christians had attacked and killed military personnel trying to keep order; however, those reports were later proven to be false and entirely fabricated. The falsified reports are now thought to have directly attributed to the violent outbreaks and brutal crackdown by military officials and Muslim hardliners against protesting Christians.
The Oct. 9 protests saw 27 Copts slaughtered and more than 300 wounded.
Now MEPs have finally come out to strongly condemn the killings, and have stresses the importance of an independent and transparent investigation into the bloody incident.
The MEP resolution says that authorities should ensure that Copts do not fall victim to violent attacks and can live in peace and freely express their beliefs throughout the country, according to IEWY News.
In particular, MEPs have called for the greater protection of churches in Egypt, and for there to be an end to their destruction and to the continuous aggression by Islamic extremists.
The kidnapping of Coptic girls has also alarmed the MEPs. Reports have revealed how young Christian girls in the country have been kidnapped from their families and physically threatened to force their conversion to Islam.
The European resolution also adds that Egyptian authorities must bring an end to discrimination against Coptic Christians.
It has been suggested that the European Parliament would urge the EU to consider taking further measures if serious human rights violations continue to occur in Egypt.
According to IEWY News, the MEPs also have called for an end to the emergency law imposed by the military interim government, and in particular suggest that the immediately-held military trials of civilians in the country could be violating basic rights such as the freedom of expression, association and assembly.
The European politicians also highlighted concerns towards Syria; the resolution points out that thousands of Iraqi Christians fled to Syria to escape persecution and violence following the fall of Saddam Hussein. However, despite that influx of Christians arriving in the country, the total Christian population in Syria has declined from 10 percent to just eight percent.
The MEPs suggest that a lack of protection for Christian communities has seen thousands flee the country to escape targeted persecution.
The brutal force used by Syrian authorities against protesters, pro-democracy activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and medical personnel, reveals that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime must relinquish power immediately, the MEPs have said.