Cairo (Agenzia Fides) – The citizens of Egypt whatever their religious community, “have equal rights and duties as established by the Constitution ”. Egypt’s Christians have demonstrated “wisdom and a spirit of patriotism ” in reply to the sufferings and provocation inflicted on them in recent years, remaining united in front of those who “try to exploit religion as a means of fomenting division and spreading extremist ideas”. These essential considerations were expressed by the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al Sisi when he received the visit of Copt Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, at the presidential palace with a delegation including several Bishops of the Copt Orthodox Synod of Bishops. Sisi emphasised the value of brotherhood between Christians and Muslims in Egypt, and expressed appreciation for initiatives undertaken by the Egyptian Family House a body for interreligious cooperation formed some years ago to prevent and mitigate sectarian clashes.
In the meantime polemic continues regarding public demonstrations on the part of certain groups of the Coptic diaspora – such the one in Washington, in front of the White House – to protest against violence on Christians in Egypt. The spokesman of the Orthodox Patriarchate made no official comment about the protests, but a few days ago warnings arrived from the Patriarchate about possible exploitation of public protests, and a request not to organise public mobilisations or campaigns abroad which could be seen as attempts to “interfere” in Egypt’s domestic affairs.
The Egyptian author Michel Fahmy strongly criticized demonstrations organised by members of the Copt Egyptian diaspora, calling them acts of “stupidity or treason” on the part of small groups underlining that only the Egyptian government is in a position to protect Copts from sectarian violence, something which neither Copt Orthodox militant groups, nor Copts present in the Egyptian parliament can achieve. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 29/7/2016)