Following the deadliest sectarian violence seen in months, the Coptic Pope, Tawadros II, has publically decried the record of President Morsi and his Egyptian government for failing to safeguard Christian communities from repeated hate attacks.
Tawadros II comments came after two incidents in Cairo saw at least five Christians murdered and up to a hundred injured. Funeral mourners at St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral were set upon as they tried to leave the Church grounds, attacked with weapons ranging from stones to molotov cocktails and automatic firearms. It took security forces five hours to arrive on the scene, and only after the bloodshed had occurred.
The public rebuke from Tawadros II, the first directly attacking President Morsi, demonstrates the despair with the lack of political will, domestic and international, to recognise the gravity of these repeated persecutions and to take the necessary steps to safeguard Christian communities. Instead, the ruling Muslim Brotherhood has demonstrated a casual indifference towards the plight of the 8 million citizens that make up the Christian community of Egypt.
Christians have long been a persecuted minority in Egypt, yet what little protections that existed under the previous regime have now been swept aside by mob rule and unchecked spates of violence. Such a drift has been seen across the Mena region, with the initial optimism of the Arab Spring now giving way to a Christian Winter. Instead of emerging democracies, the domestic upheaval has led to a resurgence of Salafist fundamentalism. Increasingly, Christian people in predominantly Muslim nations are being harassed and terrorised to the point of seeking emigration.
In support of Tawadros II remarks, Lord Alton, Honorary President of the British Coptic Association and Chairman of the Cross-Party Working Group on Human Dignity, stated:
“When Mohamed Morsi was first elected, after 29 years of Mubarak’s dictatorial rule, he was entrusted with a unique and brief opportunity to overturn a history of religious discrimination in Egypt; and indeed he pledged to do so.
As Pope Tawadros II has stated today, the negligence of the Egyptian government demands actions not more words. Any further financial aid to Egypt should be contingent on a notable increase in the state protection afforded to the Christian minority. The international community cannot continue bankrolling President Morsi whilst remaining indifferent to the failings of his government in its primary purpose, to protect its people from harm.”