Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, paid a historic visit to Coptic pope Tawadros II on Sunday, the first such meeting in 40 years. While the meeting was aimed at reassuring Christians that the new government will be better than the Muslim Brotherhood, a watchdog group has warned that it remains to be seen whether this move will benefit Christians, or if it will lead to new attacks instead.
"This visit could be seen as a positive or negative. Of course, under former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, Christians were even more singled out and persecuted," Open Doors USA Media Relations Director Jerry Dykstra told The Christian Post in an email on Monday.
The watchdog group has closely monitored the attacks Christians in Egypt suffered this past year following the fall of Morsi, when Islamist groups attacked and burned down Christian churches, schools, orphanages and bookstores. Open Doors even asked for emergency support of $430,000 in August following news that followers of Christ were also being murdered. more >>
A prominent judge in Egypt has called on the government to ensure the equitable treatment of Copts in the country.
Judge Amir Ramzi has insisted Egyptian government needs to criminalize discrimination, as well as allow conversions from Islam to Christianity. He also called for the return of guidance sessions for those wishing to convert. Ramzi denounced the kidnapping of Copts and asking for ransom from their relatives, a phenomenon that has significantly increased recently.
"There may be a few extremist judges, and others belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood within the judiciary, or even who share the same ideologies. Thus, the Supreme Judicial Council has begun to take action against judges who declared their loyalty to the Brotherhood, viewing this as an official declaration of non-neutrality," Ramzi told Mideast Christian News. more >>
Copts in the village of Tarshoub, Beni Suef, Upper Egypt, are experiencing intimidation after extremists attacked them on Monday. Aggressors threw stones at Coptic homes, burned a tuk-tuk truck owned by a Copt named Magdy Fathi Rizk and a store owned by Badr Maher.
They also destroyed the fronts of some houses and called for the closure of the church, which dates back more than 40 years in the village.
Father Malak Shehata from the Fashn Diocese told Mideast Christian News that the village of Tarshoub has been served by Father Andrawis, who moved to serve in another location. When the Fashn Diocese delegated a new priest to serve in the village and Copts tried to prepare a residence for him in the church, some Muslims gathered and refused to let the priest enter the church. This was led by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the village. more >>
The Muslim Brotherhood was officially declared a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government on Wednesday, over a year after winning the country's first democratic presidential elections with former leader Mohamed Morsi.
"All of Egypt ... was terrified by the ugly crime that the Muslim Brotherhood group committed by blowing up the building of the Dakahlyia security directorate," the Egyptian government said in an official statement.
The decision came after the latest crackdown on the Islamic party, which is being accused of carrying out a suicide bomb attack that killed 16 people at a police station on Wednesday, Reuters reported. more >>
Egypt's Interim President Adli Mansour has promised he would secure churches during the upcoming holidays and during the time of the referendum and elections.
Mina Magdi, coordinator of the Maspero Youth Union (MYU), revealed the comments came as the president spoke during a meeting of 50 members of revolutionary and party movements. The president also discussed the future vision of holding the presidential election before the parliamentary election and how the parliamentary elections will be held.
Mansour listened to reports on the suffering of Copts due to sectarian attacks and delays in building and restoration of churches that were destroyed on August 14, following the dispersal of the Brotherhood's sit-ins. more >>
Egypt's new draft constitution, to be voted on in a national referendum in January, is being hailed for its improvements over the 2012 Islamist-backed constitution. But the new constitution still has a number of shortcomings on religious and personal freedoms, according to concerned Egyptian Christians and human rights groups.
"Personally I'm cautiously optimistic," said Halim Meawad, co-founder of Coptic Solidarity, a U.S.-based international Coptic Christian human rights organization.
Meawad said the draft constitution is an improvement over the Muslim Brotherhood constitution of 2012, particularly with elimination of Article 219, which defined aspects of Sharia law on which legislation could be based. Article 219 and other aspects of the 2012 constitution led many liberal and Christian leaders to boycott the Muslim Brotherhood government, eventually culminating in popular protests and the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. more >>