Copts, experts satisfied with Naga Hammadi ruling

Officials from the Coptic Church welcomed a ruling by the Supreme Emergency State Security Court which sentenced to death the first suspect in last year’s Christmas shootings in Naga Hammadi. They described it as a “just” sentence.

Political experts, meanwhile, saw it as the beginning of a new stage in the handling of sectarian incidents, since it is the first ever death sentence in such a case. 

Gamal Sadeq, the brother of a soldier who died in the shooting, said the “ruling is fair and has made us feel we have received a fair retribution.”

Father Marcos, bishop for Shubra al-Kheima and head of the Holy Synod’s media committee, said that it is a fair punishment according to the teachings of the Bible. He expressed relief at the ruling and said he hopes it indicates that the state has become aware of the importance of deterrence in sectarian incidents and establishing a civil state.

Meanwhile, Bishop Sergius Sergius, the Coptic Church deputy, said he is satisfied that the state has started to understand how dangerous the sectarian situation is.

Bishop Abdel Maseeh Baseet, priest at the Church of the Virgin Mary in Mostorod, said that before the ruling Copts were like students waiting anxiously for the result of an exam. He added that they feared the suspects would be exonerated, as in the incident in the village of Kasheh in 2001.

Maged Hanna, the claimants' lawyer, said that as al-Kamouny killed innocent people and all the evidence indicts him, this is the ruling that he had anticipated.

Naguib Gobrail, head of the Egyptian Federation for Human Rights, said the ruling has managed to absorb the anger of the Copts. “We are waiting to hear the grounds on which the ruling was made, for they may indicate who was behind al-Kamouny and who planned and incited the attack.”

Emad Gad, an expert at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, described the ruling as a new beginning. He added that in previous sectarian cases the perpetrators were either never identified or labeled psychologically unfit before being released.

Amr al-Shobaki, another expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said the incident was unusual in that there was conclusive evidence that al-Kamouny carried out the act, while previous sectarian cases were mostly clashes between several groups, making it difficult to point out who the criminals were.

Al-Shobaki said that claiming the ruling was intended to satisfy Copts would cast doubts on the credibility of the Egyptian judiciary. He said that the grounds for the ruling should be announced, particularly since it has been said that leaders from the ruling National Democratic Party in Naga Hammadi were behind the incident.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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