SECTARIAN clashes linked to the 21-month conflict in Syria have killed six people and wounded 40 in neighbouring Lebanon.Tags: sectarian clashes
SECTARIAN clashes linked to the 21-month conflict in Syria have killed six people and wounded 40 in neighbouring Lebanon.Tags: sectarian clashes
The tourism sector has lost LE1 billion per month this year as compared to the same period in 2010, said Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou on Thursday. He added that the ministry is studying plans tailored to each season to boost the sector, and to attract tourists from Russia and Western Europe.
The Tourism Promotion Authority’s overseas offices reported that the decline in tourism is a reaction to the lack of security as seen in recent incidents including the sectarian clashes in Dahshur in July, the Nile Cities towers clashes in August and a spike in organized crime and violence in Marsa Alam.
The reports also said that when mentions of Sinai increase in the media, particularly in regards the security crackdown operation against terrorist groups, there is a correlated cancellation of bookings to Sharm el-Sheikh.
Zaazou called on the media to specify the exact locations that the operation targets so as not to affect tourism in the rest of the peninsula.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-YoumTags: sectarian clashes, tourism sector, Tourism Promotion Authority
Spurred by what they see as an increasing tide of Islamization lead by the Muslim Brotherhood, 13 Coptic civil society and political activist groups decided to band together and create a coordinating body unattached to the church.
Inaugurated last week, the Coptic Consultative Council is meant to work as a “unifying entity for all Christian groups, unions and institutions … aimed at reaching a common political and intellectual perspective on the big issues,” their mission statement reads.
The council, which includes representatives from groups such as the Maspero Youth Union, Copts for Egypt, the Kalimah Center for Human Rights and the Egyptian Center for Minorities became an idea after a succession of sectarian clashes and tensions in different parts of Egypt.
“We realized the pressing need for this council especially after the Amreyyah incidents, and of course lately the Dahshour incidents,” said Tharwat Bikheet, a member of the Egyptian Observatory for Human Rights, and one of the council’s members.
In January, individual clashes between Copts and Muslims in the village of Amreyyah near Alexandria ended with the exile of Coptic families from the village after sectarian clashes ensued. The year 2012 has since seen many major incidents of sectarian tension.
During the reign of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the Coptic Church was normally the mouthpiece for Copts on many of the issues that specifically concerned their well-being. Under the auspices of Pope Shenouda III, the Church has played an increasingly political role, but since the revolution that has changed.
“Bishop Bakhomious (one of the leading clergymen in the Coptic Church) has worked on decreasing the Church’s political role since Pope Shenouda died. Also, Copts like all other Egyptians have become used to being engaged and more involved since the revolution,” said Hany Milad, the presiding judge in Mansoura City Courts.
While the council will not be waiting for political direction from the Church, it is not meant to challenge the Church either. “We feel like it’s time we came out from under the Church’s cloth on civil and some political matters,” said Menes Magdy, a member of the council and coordinator with the Maspero Youth Union.
Founders of the Council are looking to use it as a lobby group to bring Coptic issues to the forefront, but they also look for it to be a tool and director for Coptic grassroots movement and street activism. The first item on their agenda in this regard is to go out and protest President Mohamed Morsy’s decisions early this week to retire the heads of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and completely reshuffle both the Armed Forces leadership as well as the heads of state-run media. Most of the groups in the council are helping organize the anti-Morsy protest scheduled for 24 August.
Heads of the council were also unanimous in their apprehension regarding Morsy’s ability to form a new Constituent Assembly. “The council’s first crisis is Morsy’s latest decisions. We all must participate on 24 August. It is not a Coptic protest, it is a protest for anyone who wants to preserve the country’s identity, and avoid one group’s dominance of it,” said former MP Kamal Zakher, who helped inaugurate the council.
Zakher believes that many who have incited anti-Coptic rhetoric and spread sectarian strife among the hard-line Islamists were allowed to do so without sufficient interference by the government. He calls on Morsy, whom he acknowledges as the legitimate president, to do so. “Just like a television presenter and newspaper owner are being investigated for insisting the President’s murder, we demand that those who incite the murder of an entire community (the Copts) be under investigation as well,” Zahker said.
Coordination and activism among Coptic groups has not always been a smooth path, and many members of the council acknowledge the problems Coptic activism faced in the past and their subsequent failures.
“Here we do not want to fail like our predecessors did. They tended to dissolve quickly and be sabotaged by members of our own congregation who were only after the limelight,” said Maher Aziz, a council member, businessman and activist.
Some who attended the inauguration were critical of the council for including figures that may hinder their work. “I fear that some so-called activists for the Coptic cause were only after personal gain and only harmed the cause in the end. Some of these people were unfortunately invited to attend the presentation,” said Milad.
According to Bikheet they have a trial period of three months to prove to the National Center for Human Rights that they can be an effective and truly representative group, in order to gain official status.
With the creation of this council, its founders believe that it would add a strong political voice for Copts in Egypt, and help reverse what they see to be a tide of hatred rising against them. “Christians in Egypt are in danger, we must be strong with our voice, this is how,” said Hany al-Gezeiry, the spokesman for Copts for Egypt, an NGO.
The council members hope to reverse the tide of Copts emigrating from Egypt as a result of the apprehensive sectarian situation in some parts of Egypt. “We call on all Copts looking to migrate away from Egypt to rethink,” said Kamal Suleiman, the council’s general coordinator. “As Pope Shenouda once said, Egypt is not a homeland we live in, but one that lives in us.”Tags: President Hosni Mubarak, Maspero Youth Union, Pope Shenouda, sectarian clashes
Security forces, together with the family elders of the village of Dahshur, helped the 16 Coptic families who were forced to leave the village return to their homes.
They had left due to violent sectarian clashes that erupted in July after a Muslim young man accused a Christian laundry owner of burning his shirt while ironing it.
The clashes killed one person, wounded six others and led to the burning of two houses.
President Mohamed Morsy had ordered Giza Governor Ali Abdel Rahman to form a committee to deal with the incident.
Giza Bishop Theadsius said the governor paid each family LE10,000 in principle compensation until their losses are estimated.
Muslim residents welcomed the returning families, who were happy to go back.
The governor said the total compensation amounted to LE52,000 given to 52 residents and seven shop owners. “We are also launching a charity project of LE1 million in the name of the citizen who died in the clashes,” he said.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-YoumTags: sectarian clashes, President Mohamed Morsy, Muslim residents, Ali Abdel Rahman, security forces
President Mohamed Morsy has ordered Giza Governor Ali Abdel Rahman to form a committee to deal with the aftermath of sectarian clashes in Dahshur.
In a phone call Saturday following Rahman’s return from reconciliation meetings, Morsy asked him to form a committee within 24 hours to estimate damages and compensation, back reconciliation efforts and encourage Christian residents who left to return to their homes.
Morsy also asked Rahman to intensify the security presence in the village until stability and calm are restored, and advised him to bring the full force of the law to bear against anyone further inciting violence.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-YoumTags: Al-Masry Al-Youm Morsy, President Mohamed Morsy, Ali Abdel Rahman, sectarian clashes, reconciliation efforts
The National Council for Human Rights said Saturday that it has sent a fact-finding mission to Dahshur to investigate the recent sectarian strife that took place.
Mohammed Fayek, senior vice president of the council, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that impunity is one of the main reasons for the renewed sectarian clashes.
Violence erupted on 27 August after a Christian launderer burned a Muslim customer’s shirt while ironing it. Later, a young Muslim was killed, with clashes reigniting after his funeral.
Muslim residents in the town set fire to several homes and traded firebombs with Coptic residents. Scores of Coptic families left Dahshur fearing for their lives.
President Mohamed Morsy vowed to enforce the law against perpetrators.
“The aim of sending the mission is to look up reasons why a criminal incident that occurs frequently in our daily lives would turn into sectarian clashes that threaten the security and safety of the community,” said Fayek. “The problem needs urgent solutions involving all the institutions of the state.”
“One reason of the sectarian tension in Egypt is impunity,” Fayek added. “The continuation of treating…the sectarian incidents that the country witnesses from time to time, through what is known to the media as ‘reconciliation sessions,’ enables criminals to get away with it and [contributes to] the recurrence of such incidents.”
Fayek also rejected the displacement of residents as a solution to treat sectarian strife. “It cannot be acceptable under any circumstances to displace a family by force to treat the problem of sectarianism, no matter how [much] it financially and morally costs the state to maintain security.”
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-YoumTags: Muslim residents, Al-Masry Al-Youm, sectarian clashes, President Mohamed Morsy, Mohammed Fayek, sectarian strife
The week-long clashes between Muslim and Coptic residents in the Giza village of Dahshur seemed to have drawn to an end by Thursday morning, although central security forces remain in place to prevent renewed attacks.
The father of 19-year-old Moaz Mohamed, killed on Tuesday during the violence, stated today that he does not seek revenge for his son’s death.
Giza Governor Ali Abdel Rahman told the state-owned news source MENA on Thursday that Moaz’s family will leave the case in the hands of the judiciary.
A committee including both Muslim and Coptic figures will be hold a reconciliation meeting attended by the governor and head of Giza security before sending the case to the courts, Rahman continued.
The governor said that he received a report stating that only eight Coptic families in the village have left their homes, as opposed to 150 families, as had been reported in the media. The governor called on the families to return to their homes without fear of further attacks.
The Giza Diocese has released a statement describing the events that began on Wednesday 25 July. A fight broke out after a Coptic launderer was accused of burning his Muslim customer's shirt while ironing.
According to the Diocese, the fight escalated from there, with several more individuals joining the fight and both sides throwing Molotov cocktails. The launderer's house was allegedly set on fire during the fight, and one individual was taken to the hospital after suffering burns on his face.
The statement also added that Moaz Mohamed, a Muslim, was walking in the vicinity of the fighting when he was struck by a Molotov cocktail. He was taken to a nearby hospital and died shortly thereafter. The presence of security forces was then increased in the village.
Following Moaz’s funeral, the homes of several Copt families were allegedly burnt, leading to renewed clashes in the village. Attackers allegedly smashed the windows of the local church, vandalized nearby homes and looted Copt-owned shops.
The Giza Diocese called on police and military leaders to regain control in the town, demanding an end to the violence and that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
The Free Egyptians Party held a press conference today in which they condemned the clashes and vandalism, and called on President Mohamed Morsy’s government to take action.
On his twitter page, author Alaa Al Aswany demanded that Morsy visit Dahshour to see the situation for himself. He demanded that all those behind the violence, whether Coptic or Muslim, be brought to justice.
Former MP Amr Hamzawy addressed also addressed Morsy on Thursday morning via twitter, saying that the president needs to establish agencies that would be equipped to deal with such sectarian violence.
Hamzawy wrote that resorting to traditional security forces and holding customary reconciliation sessions would not be enough to solve the problem.
He pointed that the Committee for National Justice has already developed plans to identify and respond to sectarian clashes in the early stages, and stressed that the president should avail himself of this resource.
Hamzawy concluded by saying that staying silent when facing the events of Dahshur and other sectarian clashes is a “disaster."
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-YoumTags: Giza Diocese, Moaz Mohamed, Alaa Al Aswany, security forces
In the aftermath of a funeral of a young Muslim who died during sectarian violence, clashes between hundreds of Muslim residents and the police in the Giza town of Dahshur broke out again at dawn on Wednesday.
Moaz Mohamed, who had suffered serious burns from a Molotov cocktail during the initial clashes, died on Tuesday at Helmia Military Hospital in Cairo.
The clashes started on Friday after a Christian launderer burned a Muslim customer's shirt during ironing.
After Mohamed's funeral, hundreds of Muslim residents tried to storm Dahshur's Mar Girgis Church but were stopped by police, who also evacuated Christians from their homes.
The Giza Police Authority deployed additional Central Security Forces after two police and 13 central security officers were injured in the fighting and four Coptic-owned stores were destroyed.
The security forces reportedly gained control of the town, but reconciliation attempts have failed as the two parties refuse to resolve the issue.
Following the outbreak of violence, a judge has decided to extend the imprisonment of four Coptic family members of the launderer. The charges against them were changed from attempted murder to murder and possessing explosives after Mohamed died.
A security source in Giza said that security services were on their way to settle the dispute and hold a reconciliation meeting between the two parties, but the victim's death halted their plans.
The source added that village leaders and senior families will try to bring the two parties together for talks.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-YoumTags: Molotov cocktail, Helmia Military Hospital, sectarian violence, Central Security Forces, Giza Police Authority, Muslim residents, sectarian clashes
Police imposed tight security measures in the village of Dahshur, Badrasheen, on Saturday in after sectarian clashes between Muslims and Copts the day before.
The clashes started on Friday when a Christian makwagi, a person who irons clothes for a living, burned a shirt owned by a Muslim customer while ironing it.
Muslims later set fire to Christian homes in the village, which is on the southern outskirts of Cairo, and at least one person was wounded as Muslims and Coptic Christians traded fire bombs.
Security forces stopped an attempt to storm the Mar Girgis Church in the village.
Badrasheen prosecution ordered the arrest of five Muslims, while the makwagi and a relative were detained pending investigation on charges of attempted murder and possession of explosives.
Prosecution investigators found that 1,000 Muslims had gathered to set fire to the makwagi's house, and succeeded in burning it down completely. Damages were estimated at LE200,000.
All those who started the fire or helped start it, as well those who attempted to kill the makwagi and members of his family, were arrested, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Moaz, a young man who suffered 70 percent body burns, told the prosecution that he was walking down the street, unexpectedly came accross the fight, and a member of the makwagi's family threw a Molotov cocktail at him. Investigations appeared to confirm Moaz's testimony.
In coordination with the village’s leading families, police imposed a security cordon in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
Muslims have burned down the homes of Copts during sectarian clashes in the past.
Christians were the target of sectarian attacks under the rule of former leader Hosni Mubarak, and dozens of Christians have been killed in the past 18 months since Mubarak's overthrow in February last year.
Copts make up roughly 10 percent of Egypt's 82-million-strong population.Tags: Christian makwagi, sectarian clashes, Hosni Mubarak
Luxor police on Wednesday broke up clashes between dozens of Muslims and Christians after a young Muslim man allegedly verbally harassed a Christian woman.
A 24-year-old Muslim man was beaten by a group of Christians after reportedly cat-calling the Christian woman in the city's Sawaqi district. The man was taken to a hospital after suffering several injuries. Dozens of Muslims responded to the attack by throwing rocks at Christians and some of their shops, causing damages.
A security source denied rumors that the nearby Mar Girgis Church was attacked. Security was increased in the area out of fear of renewed clashes.
Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of over 80 million. They often complain about unfair treatment, citing regulations they say make it easier to build a mosque than a church.
Clashes often erupt between Christians and Muslims over land conflicts, disputes over church construction or sectarian tensions.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-YoumTags: sectarian clashes, Christians and Muslims