‘Coptic Blood is Not Cheap’ Says Egyptian Coptic Pope
“Power should be used to serve the people, not for violence. Violence only generates counter-violence,” said Coptic Pope Shenouda III in response to Egyptian security firing on Coptic protestors with live ammunition. Human Rights organizations have condemned the attack, yet most of the world has remained silent. Protests are to be held in the U.S., Australia, Europe and Canada next week.
By Mary Abdelmassih
12/11/2010 Egypt (AINA) – During his weekly sermon on Wednesday November 8 at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, Coptic Pope Shenouda III said “Coptic Blood is not Cheap,” referring to the Coptic young men killed after security forces opened fire on them on November 24. In response to a query from a Copt in the audience as to what was the church doing for the 157 Copts detained and charged in connection with the incident of St. Mary and St. Michel’s Church in Talbiya, the Pope said “We are doing our best in this matter.”
The 87-year-old pontiff verbally expressed his anger at the authorities in connection with the escalating assaults against Copts, which many view as a sign of a wide rift between the Pope and the government. He had previously denounced what he described as the “excessive use of force against Coptic protesters” on November 24, adding “Power should be used to serve the people, not for violence. Violence only generates counter-violence.”
Pope Shenouda also criticized state security in connection with the incident of el-Nowahed in Abu-Tesht on November 15, in which 22 Coptic homes were torched by Muslims and no charges have been levied against any of the Muslim perpetrators, who have been identified. “Where are the Security Forces and where are the compensations for those poor people,” said the Pope, “If they won’t then we will” (AINA 11-17-2010)
The latest attack on the Copts took place on November 24, when Security forces clashed with Coptic protesters at several locations, after authorities halted construction of St. Mary and St. Michel’s Church, in Talbia, Omrania district, preparing for its demolition. The authorities claimed that the building was licensed as a community center , while the church insists the permit has been changed by the Governor of Giza. It was reported that secretary to the Governor of Giza visited the congregation on November 23rd and congratulated them on the new church (AINA 11-27-2010).
All persons arrested in the clash with state security, including minors, have been charged with premeditated attempted murder of police officers, illegal possession of weapons and explosives without a license, blocking public roads, destruction of public property for terrorism purposes, congregation in violation of the law, and rioting. Such charges carry sentences of 15 years imprisonment.
“The accusations made against the detainees are not consistent with the facts. None of the prosecution records proved in any case signs of Molotov cocktails the presence of weapons,” said lawyer Adel Mikhail, “These charges are based on hearsay.”
Human rights organizations inside and outside Egypt decried the unjust handling by State Security of the incident, especially the use of live ammunition on protesters. International Christian Concern called for the release of the detained Coptic children.