Egypt: families go back to home town

by
17 August 2012

AP

Desert: a minaret in Dahshur village, in sight of the Dahshur pyramid 

Desert: a minaret in Dahshur village, in sight of the Dahshur pyramid 

TALKS involving members of the Egyptian security forces, and Muslim and Coptic representatives have enabled about 20 to 30 Christian families to return to their homes in the town of Dahshur, south of Cairo.

They fled when sectarian trouble erupted after an argument between two men became violent ( News, 10 August). One person was killed and many more were wounded. President Mohamed Morsi ordered the authorities to take steps to prevent a repeat of the incident.

When news emerged of the families' return, an organisation of Copts, the Maspero Youth Union, called off a mass protest that it had planned to stage in Cairo. The group is named after a clash between Copts and the security forces last October, outside the main TV station in the capital, known as the Maspero Building, in which 24 Christians were killed ( News, 14 October 2011).

Incidents such as this have prompted younger Copts to take steps to try to assert the rights of the minority Christian community. The success of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups in the parliamentary elections have given this trend extra momentum.

A complaint among many young Copts is that previous generations of religious leaders have not been sufficiently active in domestic politics. Over recent months, several attempts have been made to pro-mote political parties with a mandate to fight for Copts' rights. One of the latest moves has been the formation of a Christian Brotherhood.

Such actions go against the teaching of the Coptic Church, which seeks to promote the right of Christians to be citizens of Egypt on a par with Muslims. These two outlooks are likely to dominate discussions among Copts in the months ahead, as plans are prepared for the election of a new Coptic Pope.

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