Muslim Brotherhood to Protect Christians During Coptic Christmas

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood organization has said it will protect Christian believers as next year’s Coptic Christmas holiday rolls around.

This is happening due to the slew of attacks brought against the Christian population during 2010 and 2011. The Coptic Christmas holiday will take place in the country on Jan. 7, 2012.

"We have decided to form Muslim Brotherhood committees to protect the churches so that the hands of sin do not ruin the festivities like they did several times under the old regime," the group said.

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Adding, "We call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the police to protect the churches in the same way they protected polling stations during the elections."

Coptic Christians currently account for 10 percent of Egypt’s 82 million population. However, they have been the target of frequent attacks by opposing religious followers. Christians in the region have alleged to systematic discrimination from the leaders of their home country.

Attacks on Christian churches in Egypt during the holiday season have frequently occurred in the past. Last year, at least 21 people were killed in a car-bombing incident. The explosion occurred during a New Year’s Eve mass at All Saints Church in Alexandria.

In Jan. 2010, six Copts were shot dead during a Coptic Christmas Eve mass in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. A Muslim security guard was also killed in the shooting.

On Oct. 9 of this year, thousands of Christians marched to the state television building in Cairo after a church was attacked in Aswan. They demanded justice and greater equal rights from Egypt's government officials.

The group was met with military opposition, however. Military forces proceeded to fire on the protesters and run them over with armored vehicles. At least 27 people were killed during this incident. It has now been referred to as the "Maspero Massacre."

Joseph Zaki, a Christian hailing from Alexandria, told that the harrowing situation in Egypt only needs a few outspoken leaders to speak out against the violence. Only then can this change the sentiment toward the Christian community of Egypt.

"You know, we talk all the time about how to end sectarianism, but the reality is that all we really need is to have leaders speak out and talk about the fact we are all Egyptians," he said. "I know it sounds cheesy, but many of my friends, Muslim and Christian, have been at the front of all protests. We have all died together, so why not live together."

The volatile situation for Egypt’s Christian community may continue, but the Muslim Brotherhood will ensure that little to no harm comes to them next year.

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