'Nightmarish' Sectarian Violence Endangers National Unity in Egypt, Says Top Academic

Dr. Anwaar Abdallah, Professor of Civilization and Cultural Affairs and coordinator of the cultural exchange program between the University of Helwan and the University of Chicago, described the recent events in Egypt as "nightmarish."

"[The cathedral attack] was similar to other recurring incidents in Egypt, which trigger hate and violence and result in death," he said.

The rising sectarian tensions in the country were highlighted by the violence that struck St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo where six Copts were killed, according to Dr. Abdallah's recent article in The Washington Times.

Despite efforts by religious and political leaders to stop such violence, Dr. Abdullah insists that the "lack of security and the abundance of weapons, however, contributes to such tragic incidents … it is the responsibility of the state to protect all its citizens."

Despite Article 43 in the new Egyptian constitution recognizing the rights of Christians to have places of worship, Human Rights Watch says a part of the law, which was passed in May 2011 after a sectarian incident left 12 dead and 52 injured, prohibits the renovation of churches without a presidential decree and has yet to be repealed.

"The situation inside Egypt appears to be pushing Copts out of Egypt, which the number of Christian immigrants potentially reaching 250,000 annually … fear haunts the future of young Copts," Abdallah added.

"Every loyal Egyptian believes that time has come for clerics both Muslims and Christians to focus on the common message of love that is supposed to be central to all religions. Preaching a positive message based on harmony and love can heal the wounds of the country," Abdallah concluded.