02/06/2019 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Roughly one month after Egypt’s new Higher Committee to Counter Sectarian Violence was formed, questions persist within the country on what outcomes are achievable. The purpose of the committee is to investigate sectarian incidents between Christians and Muslims, and identify a strategy to prevent future incidents.
The committee’s formation was lauded by Egyptian authorities, but some locals are concerned that committee will not be able to maintain longevity. Others say that the committee lacks executive decision powers, which means that all it can do is make recommendations to the President and hope that they are taken seriously. Still others worry that the committee is reactionary, and will not make progress if discrimination is not eliminated at all levels of society. Even with these concerns, many remain hopeful that the committee will take the incitement of sectarian violence seriously.
In Egypt, community tensions between Muslims and Christians are often labeled as sectarian. Most Egyptian Christians live in Minya, where Christians make up nearly 50% of the population. Hardline Muslim extremists often use any provocation to attack Christians living in their community. Recent incidents have also shown that the police will sometimes even be the instigator in these attacks.
It is also worth noting that Christians are regarded as second-class citizens in Egypt, which is officially an Islamic country although the constitution alleges to protect the rights of Christians. However, although most of the Middle East’s Christians live in Egypt, they are given few opportunities to take an active role in their own government.
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