Activists protest sectarian violence in Minya

A group of activists and MPs staged a protest at Dar al-Qadaa al-Ali, a prominent judicial institution in downtown Cairo, Saturday, against sectarian violence in Minya governorate.

The MP Nadia Henry, head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights and a representative of the Coptic Evangelical Church was present, along with rights lawyer Naguib Gobrail, and citizens from the villages that have recently witnessed sectarian violence.

The protesters raised banners saying, “Christians are being persecuted,” “Christians are Egyptians,” “No to pressuring victims to reconcile,” and “No to state institutions’ collusion in sectarian violence.”

The protest was organized by a group called, “Egyptians against discrimination”, who said they were responding to several incidents of sectarian violence that were silenced by pressuring Copts to reconcile, while the perpetrators dodged punishment.

Police asked protesters to disperse ,as they did not have official permission to protest, and the protest ended at 12 p.m.; an hour earlier than the intended finish time.

In a statement, the group announced plans to hold a press conference on Sunday to raise the matter of discrimination against Coptic Christians.

It added that those hosting the conference will file a case with the prosecutor general against the perpetrators of these incidents.

Minya has been the scene of several sectarian clashes recently. Over a month ago, a young Christian man was killed and three others injured in a knife fight in Tihna al-Jabal village, an incident sparked by an alleged verbal attack on a local priest.

In May, an elderly Coptic woman was stripped of her clothes and dragged through the streets of Karam village, Minya, after rumors spread that her son was having an affair with a local Muslim woman. Several Christian homes were torched that same week as a result of the tensions.

Pope Tawadros II issued a statement early in August to the expatriate Coptic community, calling for Copts to forgo protests. The statement was made as a pre-emptive measure before protests scheduled in America and Canada.  In the statement the Pope stressed that the matter was in hand, and that the recent years of political and social transformation in Egypt have improved the situation for Copts considerably.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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