02/13/2020 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Last month, an Egyptian court sentenced to ten years in jail the individuals in Karm village responsible for stripping an elderly Coptic woman, Souad Thabet, of her clothes in 2016. Five Christian houses were burned during the incident. Following this sentence, pressure in the village has been building towards the Coptic Christian community.
Last week, a reconciliation meeting was pursued. These are meetings between Muslims and Christians where, theoretically, justice for the wrongdoing is conducted outside the judicial system. In practice, reconciliation meetings are used to force Christians to abandon their pursuit of justice, and often even force them to give up even more of their rights.
The first reconciliation meeting was held on February 2nd, as local Christians feared that the prison sentence would incite local Muslims to violence against Copts. During this meeting, the Christians changed their testimony to say that they did not see any of their houses burning. Saoud Thabet was the only one who did not change her testimony. The testimonies of those other Christians during the reconciliation session was confirmed on February 10th, leading to the judicial case to be postponed until April 16th.
Though the Christians who changed their testimony say they did so of their own free will, most other Christians observing the case have noted that there is no reason to pursue reconciliation and change the testimony unless they are under direct threat from their Muslim neighbors.
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