The Canadian Coptic Association

Press Release December 05, 2004

The Copts (The Christians of Egypt) have been subject to religious discrimination and persecution in their own homeland for generations.

Along the ages we offered so many sacrifices and martyrs to save our faith as the earliest Christians Community in the Middle East.

The civilized world can not stay silent to face new genocide, and we cannot afford any more Darfour in Egypt.

Muslim wild mobs often provoke tension, and inflict bodily harm and financial losses to fearful Copts. Organized events spread like fire and becomes as a daily custom from one corner to other.  Egyptian lawless regime ignores the pleas of defenseless Coptic Minority safety or security needs, and let them for free to their attackers.

On Friday, December 03, 2004, Muslims mob attacked a private car of village priest and brought it to a total loss, destroyed and looted the goods of two pharmacies, burned down and tried to burn several Coptic houses, police turned a blind eye as usual, no more security in the Village.  The regime applies no see, no hear, and do not talk.

One manifestation of discrimination and persecution of Christians as the restrictions applied to churches construction and repair. There are several villages with sizable Christian community where the Christians do not have a single church to warship in.

We, therefore, put in front of the international community’s and all organisations concerned with Human Rights conscience this grave situation of an Egyptian village with large Christian community called Manqateen in El-Minya, Upper Egypt, where under police instructions, The Christians of the village are prevented from practising their religion, an act which contravenes all international Human Rights conventions and treaties which Egypt is a signatory.  This situation is repeated in so many other Egyptian villages.

The Christians in the village of Manqateen in El-Minya, who are approximately 5000, built a church in 1978, registered it officially under the name of St. Anthony’s Church. While the construction is underway, Muslim mobs attacked some Christian homes in the village and burnt down the church. When police arrived, police officers ordered to stop the building of the church, which still taking effect till now.

The Village Copts appealed to The President of Egypt, The Secretary of State for Interior, The local Governor, and The local Head of The State Security Police.  No response took place till 1999 when officials from the Ministry of Interior came to inspect the place; the reply came in 2002 from the Secretary of State for Interior refusing the completion and resumption of the use of the church. When asked about the reason behind the refusal the answer was “the security situation does not permit”.

As the Copts were disparate to have a place for Worship, wedding ceremonies and funerals as well as other

socio-religious activities (Since the closure of the church village, Worship, weddings and funerals rites took place in the middle of a street in the village in open air), To avoid the humiliation, villagers thought to conduct their ceremonies in the grounds of a Christian Society registered under number 502 Ministry of Social Affairs,

Copts thought to rent a more spacious hall, an application to the Ministry of Social Affairs was made and agreed upon.The agreement of the Ministry of Social Affairs was registered under the number (5) on 13/1/2002; however, the local police again seized and closed the new site permanently.

Once again Copts appealed to the Secretary of State for Interior, and to the Head of the Local Police under number 166 on 13/10/2003.  This appeal was sent to the Ministry of Interior under number 8173 and to the Governor of El-Minya governorate under number 300 on 12/10/2003. The reply from the Governor of El-Minya came refusing this appeal. The answer as always has been “the security situation does not permit”.

Copts wonder, is building a church is a threat to Egypt security? How long should Copts complain to the police and authorities? How long and how many complaints are to be lodged?  And when will the freedom of worship inside a church for the 5000 Christians in Manqateen would be respected? Does the Copts prayer inside their churches is considered a threat to Egypt state security??? 

If this, is not a vicious discrimination???

Where is the slogan “we are one fabric”?  This has been repeated frequently and said by the government. This village with equal numbers of Christians and Muslims has 7 (seven) mosques; they seem not to cause any security threat for the state so far!

Dr Selim Naguib

President of the Canadian Coptic Association

Ph. D. in Law and in Political Science

International Lawyer and Human Right Activist, Retired Judge

Member of the “International Law Committee, Geneva”.

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