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Egyptian political and religious figures condemn Warraq church attack

Maspero Youth Union calls for a protest Tuesday against the government; Salafist Nour Party and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya condemn the attack

Ahram Online , Monday 21 Oct 2013
Al-Warraq Church
Egyptians gather at a Coptic Christian church in Al-Warraq late Sunday 20 Oct, 2013 after a gunman on motorcycle opened fire at a wedding ceremony, killing four and wounding dozens (Photo: AP)
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Several political and religious figures have condemned the shooting at Al-Warraq's Keniset Al-'Adra (The Church of the Virgin Mary) late Sunday that resulted in the death of four victims and the injury of dozens after a man randomly fired 15 bullets at a wedding ceremony before fleeing the scene.

Interim Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi denounced the attack late on Sunday, describing the shooting of innocent people during their participation at a wedding ceremony as a "cowardly criminal act" in a short press statement.

Two girls -- one aged 12 and the other eight -- were among the dead, in addition to a man and a woman, a security source told Ahram Online. Eighteen others were injured, some of whom are in critical condition.

Despite El-Beblawi's condemnation, the Maspero Youth Union (a grass-roots Christian rights group) held the prime minister and his government responsible for the attack.

In a press statement issued on Monday, the Christian youth group condemned the government's failure to protect Christians during the attacks that followed the 14 August police dispersal of two large pro-Morsi protest camps -- including the latest shooting at Al-Warraq church.

The Maspero Youth Union has called for a protest next Tuesday in front of the cabinet headquarters demanding the trial of the minister of interior for his late response to the ongoing attacks against Christians.

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb condemned the attack in a press statement issued earlier on Monday.

"It is a criminal attack against religion as well as morals," said the head of Egypt's leading Islamic institution, who also expressed his personal condolences to the families of the victims.

The Salafist Nour Party also condemned the attack. "The attack on the church and the killing of fellow Egyptian citizens is against Islamic teachings," said Sherif Taha, the official spokesman of the party, in a statement released on Monday.

"This attack could lead to wider sectarian tension between Egyptians," he added, demanding that the state find and arrest those responsible and bring them to justice.

Leader of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party Mohamed Abul-Ghar also condemned the attack, describing it as “cowardly” in a press statement issued earlier on Monday.

Abul-Ghar presented his condolences to the Coptic Church and the Egyptian people in a statement in which he also demanded the authorities arrest “the terrorists behind the shooting.”

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, co-founders of the Muslim Brotherhood-led Pro-Legitimacy Democracy Alliance, also issued a statement late on Sunday condemning the attack and denying any involvement.

While numerous attacks against churches were reported following Morsi's removal from power early July, the most comprehensive wave of attacks was triggered by the forced dispersal of the two main pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo and Giza on 14 August, which left hundreds dead and thousands injured.

Amnesty International, a London-based rights, group, said that upwards of 200 Christian-owned properties have been attacked and 43 churches seriously damaged across the country, adding that at least four people have been killed.

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