Egypt's Christians continue to live 'in fear'
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Despite relative calm in Egypt, country's Christians continue to 'live in fear'
NEW YORK (Oct. 4, 2013)--Security for Christians in Egypt has improved, but the head of the press office of the country's Catholic Church said that grave concerns remain, also in light of security forces' limited ability to provide protection.
Father Rafik Greiche told Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic agency helping persecuted Christians around the world: "Things have gotten somewhat calmer in Cairo. But we are always in fear of what may happen next. The Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists are still threatening to attack Christian churches and houses--we never know where they may strike next."
On Sept. 23, Coptic Orthodox Bishop Anwa Makarios of Minya narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by jihadists who conducted their operation openly, without masks. Greiche explained that the provinces of Minya in Upper Egypt and province of Sohag are strongholds of Islamist radicalism.
"They are very active there, and have support from some of the local families. And they can easily escape security forces by withdrawing into the nearby desert," he said, adding that the on the day before the attack on the prelate there were assaults on Christians in Ezbet Zakariya, a small town in the province of Minya, where jihadists have effectively declared "open season" for the looting and pillaging of Christian homes. Christian families fled the town as a result.
Father Rafik, asked if the government is doing enough to protect the Christian community, said that "security forces are doing what they can. But it is not enough. They are preoccupied with many other problems at the same time. It is not that they do not want to protect us. But all too often, given their limited capacities, they simply cannot do so." The Church is doing what it can to protect itself. One measure is the installation of additional fire extinguishers in churches to protect against arson attacks.
Rafik reported on some instances in which Muslims have warned local churches of pending attacks, even fending off attackers themselves. "I have seen it for myself: people have fought off the attackers until the police arrived. That shows that, contrary to what is often asserted, the Muslim Brotherhood does not necessarily have the support of the local population. The people are rejecting the extremists."
The Muslim Brotherhood has accused the country's Christian Churches of playing a key role in the ouster last July of President Mohammed Morsi, a senior member of the Brotherhood. The situation may heat up again in the wake of the government's announcement that it will ban or take over the group's extensive network of social services.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org
Aid to the Church in Need
http://www.churchinneed.org NY, 11222 United States
Egypt, Egyptian Christians, Egyptian Catholic Church, Muslim Brotherhood
International Archdiocese & Diocese
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