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EGYPT: Thousands of Christians gather to pray for equality in a Muslim land

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Around 7,000 Coptic Christians gathered at the Father Kyrillos church on the outskirts of Cairo to pray for an end to "discriminaton" during the celebration of the Egyptian Coptic New Year this weekend.

The gathering Friday came after calls by a number of Coptic organizations to abandon this year's celebrations as a protest against the perceived oppression of Christians in Egypt were met by deaf ears. 

Thousands of Copts attended ceremonial masses on the same day.


But groups like Youth Against Discrimination and Copts United for Egypt urged Copts to show anger by declaring Sept. 11 -- Coptic New Year -- a general sit-in for Christians throughout the country.

They asked people not to attend New Year masses, to stay home all day and wear all-black outfits in addition to decorating their windows with black flags.

While the Coptic Orthodox Church, headed by Pope Shenouda III, rejected such a protest, claiming that the Coptic New Year is a religious occasion that should never be politically orientated, priest Metias Nasr of Father Kyrillos' church said that the gathering was arranged to show solidarity with the Christian groups' demands.

"We are not here to support any sit-ins or strikes. We are here to call for the same demands those groups based the idea of a general protest on," Nasr said. "All our grievances are legitimate enough to start a sit-in, but we have never discussed such possibility."

The attending crowd carried signs with slogans asking the government to issue a uniform law for building worship houses and condemning what they called the forceful conversion of Coptic minors to Islam.

"Copts have been silent about violations to their rights for so long, but now it is time to speak out," said Rami Kamel, general coordinator of Youth Against Discrimination.

"Solving Copts' problems in Egypt will be the country's only way of ever reaching democracy," Kamel added.

Copts form around 10% of Egypt's population of nearly 80 million. Sunni Islam is the country's main religion and Islamic Sharia law is the cornerstone of all legislation.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Friday's gathering at Father Kyrillos' church. Credit: Al Destour

Comments () | Archives (4)

just to wanted to make a correction, COPTS are about at least 15 % of the egyptian population! It's higher than 15% because most of our Muslims EGYPTIAN brothers and sisters after they migrate here they convert to Christianity, and attend churches that they were dreaming of entering!

I personally know a lot of Egyptian Muslims that are very active in church and of course the embassy counts them as Muslims yet, they are NOT!

Thanks for taking the time and writing about the forgotten yet precious minority, the Coptic NATION!!

p.s to all of you who say that Egyptians co-exit, that is not true! and Because you are a Muslim you do not feel that Muslims differentiators but they do! I lived in Egypt and was treated in an inhuman way by Egyptian Muslims!

Christian & Muslim Egyptians have co-existed in Egypt for hundreds of years. As a Muslim i've never cared who is Christian or Muslim, an Egyptian is an Egyptian to me and thats it!

However i believe the Christians & Muslims both need to protest the inequality in Egypt, its not about RELIGION its about CLASSES, the high ups live like Kings, while the poor people suffer...We are all SUFFERING not just Christian or Muslim...All Egyptians are!!

Plus lets remember that a Muslim man with a beard is always under an Eagles eye by the Police before any Christian man! So lets get real here!!!

Anyways Religion is between you and God, and Egypt is for all!

I need to correct that the COPTICS are not as mentioned in the article "Copts form around 10% of Egypt's population of nearly 80 million.” Coptics are between 12 to 17 millions and as you know the Egyptian Government says we are around 5 %, however what I sure of it that we are more than at least 15%
Thanks, ,

As a Coptic Christian living abroad, I agree with the church in politicizing any religious occasion. However, the church should never be hesitant to express the grievances of Copts, which are felt by all impartial Egyptians. Also, we as Copts should never make our Muslim brothers feel that we are seeking foreign support against them. We must confess that all minorities in Egypt, including Copts, are suffering, not only because of religious descrimination but also because we have a lot to learn about equality and tolerance. The majority of Egyptians suffer prosecution in terms of poverty, disproportionate distribution of wealth, favoritism, and corruption. However, all Egyptians should know that our common grounds outweigh our differences.


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