AFRICA/EGYPT - The Coptic Bishop of Minya rejects the "reconciliation session" after sectarian violence

Tuesday, 11 September 2018 middle east   oriental churches   violence   sectaniarism  


Minya (Agenzia Fides) - Anba Makarios, Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Minya and Abu Qurqas, rejected the proposal to hold a "reconciliation session" between representatives of Christian and Muslim communities after the sectarian violence which in recent days involved the population of the village of Demshaw Hashem, in the province of Minya. The Coptic Bishop explained that such ceremonies often have the effect of sabotaging the legitimate and dutiful safeguarding of the rights of Christian citizens, given that after such sessions of reconciliation those responsible for violent and criminal acts end up escaping justice and their crimes are not punished. Faced with episodes of sectarian violence, Anba Makarios invoked the urgency of firmly applying the law according to the principles of full equality among all citizens, as indicated on several occasions by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi himself.
In recent days, even representatives of Coptic groups had expressed their refusal to file with a traditional public and community "act of reconciliation", the case of recent violence perpetrated against Coptic Christians of Demshaw Hashem. In that village, the police arrested 19 individuals accused of assaulting the homes of Coptic Christians, on the pretext that they had gathered to pray in a church built without the necessary permits and not yet "condoned" by the administrative authorities. Representatives of the Coptic organizations had also justified their rejection of the act of reconciliation by pointing out that such public sessions often end up feeding violent Islamist groups into the belief that their criminal acts, in one way or another, will go unpunished.
The "reconciliation meetings" are public gatherings inspired by the local authorities to compare the members of the different religious communities after sectarian clashes and to lead them to public acts of pacification. They are sponsored in particular by the Egyptian Family House, an inter-religious liaison body that has been operating for some years to prevent and mitigate sectarian conflicts. As reported by Fides (see Fides 21/7/2016) already in the past several organizations questioned the effectiveness of this practice which, according to critics, turns into a mere conventional ritual, and ends up guaranteeing impunity to those responsible of violent and intimidating acts. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 11/9/2018)