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Egypt MPs urge Coptic restraint after church attack

In a session of Parliament debating the terrorist attack on a church in Alexandria, members of parliament urged Copts not to be provoked by the heinous attack

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 3 Jan 2011
Copts & Muslims
Egyptian Muslims and Christians raise a copy of the Quran and the Bible in Shubra district of Cairo, late Saturday, Jan.1, 2011 to protest against the terrorist attack on a church of Alexandria. (Photo: AP /Ahmed Ali)
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Fact-finding committees in the People's Assembly and Shura Council – Egypt's two houses of parliament – expressed deep sorrow over the deadly attack that hit Al-Qiddisin church east of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. In two separate meetings held on Sunday, the committees agreed that the attack, which hit the church on the eve of the Christmas day, was aimed at sparking a civil war between Muslims and Christians in Egypt. Fathi Sorour, speaker of the People's Assembly, said “the attack against the Alexandria church of Al-Qiddisin is a cowardly act, and is by no means aimed to strike at Copts only, but all Egyptians, Copts and Muslims, in order to spark a civil war.” Sorour urged Copts to exercise restraint and wait until the investigation into the attack reached conclusive results.

Joining forces with Sorour, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Moufid Shehab urged Copts not to be provoked by the malicious intentions of the attacks. “This is a heinous attack which is alien to the values of tolerance in Egyptian society,” said Shehab, arguing that “the attack aims to destabilize Egypt, and play havoc with the lives of Christians and Muslims alike.”

Shehab said the Assembly's fact-finding committee which toured Alexandria yesterday strongly believed that “the attack bore the hallmark of foreign hands and minds.”

In a statement before the parliamentary committee, which was headed by Sorour, Deputy Minister of Interior Adli Fayed said early indications show that the explosion was not the result of a car-bomb. “Most likely," said Fayad, "the deadly attack was caused by a highly explosive locally-made bomb that contained a large quantity of nails that can cause very harmful damage for as far as ten kilometers.”

Fayed strongly denied claims by Coptic protestors that the Interior Ministry failed to provide adequate protection for the Saints Church in Alexandria in particular and for all churches in general.

“Security of the church includes one officer and three police guards on normal days, and four officers and twelve police guards on exceptional days, such as Christmas.” Fayed also argued that police forces in Alexandria exercised restraint when attacked by tens of Coptic protestors who chanted slogans against the government and hurled security forces with stones.

In the Shura Council, members agreed that they should not jump to hasty conclusions about the incident. “We know that the attack might bear the hallmark of Al-Qaida but we should wait until investigations reach conclusive results,” said Mohamed Bassiouny, former ambassador of Egypt in Israel. Bassiouny also said “We should also not jump to the conclusion that it is the Israeli Mossad that perpetrated this heinous attack. It is true that the Mossad is fond of perpetrating such cowardly acts, but we should  not say that without clear proof.”

For his part, Mostafa El-Fiki, chairman of the Shura Council's foreign affairs and national defense committee, wondered why Israel has never been on the map of Al-Qaida's terrorist attacks.“Why should Israel stay immune to such heinous terrorist acts," he inquired.

 

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