Egypt’s policy of denial

In a statement issued by the Two Saints Church, following the New Year’s Eve blast which killed 23 people and injured scores more, we were reminded of another attack against the same church four years ago that left one person dead and several others injured when an assailant stormed into the church and attacked worshipers.  At the time, the People’s Assembly decided to form a fact-finding committee to probe the attack.

“However, this committee has not visited the church up to this moment,” the statement read.

This reflects the Egyptian regime’s lack of political will to solve the current sectarian problem. The regime continues to address the matter only from a security perspective in order to appear strong and capable of responding to threats, a fact which was emphasized in President Hosni Mubarak’s speech after the blast.

Following the Naga Hammadi shootings in Christmas 2009, we falsely believed that state officials would scrap their policy of denying the existence of a sectarian problem in Egypt, stop covering up tensions between religious communities and begin addressing the issue differently. However, the state has continued to silence anyone who speaks the truth because it reveals the incapacity of the regime in the face of a recurring problem.

With my remote control in hand, I flipped from one news station to another after the attack in an attempt to get all the information about the blast, but all I saw were officials attempting to shift the blame onto “foreign agents”.  Investigations are far from over yet officials are already trying to purge the regime of guilt by claiming the perpetrators are not Egyptians and that the attack is intended to destabilize Egypt and break its unity.

Others went as far as to allege the attack did not exclusively target the church since a mosque stands across the street, which means that people in both places of worship were targeted. A few hours after the bombing, Parliamentary Speaker Fathi Sorour stated that Egypt does not have a sectarian problem and an Egyptian could not have possible orchestrated the attack.

With official insistence on adopting the same unworkable solutions, should we not therefore fear an even bloodier attack next Christmas, or perhaps even earlier?

Over 121 sectarian incidents have taken place in Egypt since the infamous 1972 Khanka clash and the subsequent issuing of the Oteifi report–which set guidelines for combating sectarianism, but were largely ignored. Since then the regime has done nothing but pursue the same failed policies.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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