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Egypt Copts Call on President for Protection

ICC Note

Egyptian Christians are calling upon the President of Egypt to protect them against attacks by extremists. Last month alone, several attacks were carried out against Christians.

By Jeremy Reynalds

06/15/2008 Egypt (ANS) — Egypt ‘s Coptic church is calling on President Hosni Mubarak to guarantee Christians’ safety after a violent attack on a monastery in which four Copts were injured.

According to a story reported by the AFP News Service, the Coptic Ecclesiastical Council called on Mubarak to stop “more armed attacks on monks,”and “insults to the cross,” said a statement carried by Egypt ‘s press on Sunday.

AFP said the move follows a land dispute involving a historic monastery which turned violent on May 31, leading to the death of a Muslim man who was reportedly attacking the monastery.

Four Copts, including two monks, were injured in the attack on the Abu Fana Monastery near the southern city of Minya .

AFP said that officials have tried to downplay the incident, saying it was a personal rather than sectarian issue.

The clashes broke out when the monastery began building a wall around neighbouring property after receiving final approval earlier this year.

AFP reported that Muslim residents of the area claim the agricultural land on which the wall is being built is theirs, and that the structure damages their vital crops.

According to AFP, Egypt ‘s Copts — the largest Christian community in the Middle East — account for an estimated six to 10 percent of the country’s 76 million inhabitants. They complain of systematic discrimination and harassment.

AFP said that tensions often run high between Egypt ‘s Muslim and Christian communities in an increasingly religious society dominated by Sunni Muslims.