Egyptian MPs, belonging to the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and from the opposition, have attacked the Brussels-based European parliament, accusing it of interfering with the internal affairs of Egypt.
Speaker of the People's Assembly Fathi Sorour told Egypt's lower-house parliament in Monday morning's session that he strongly criticised the European Parliament because “it tried to exploit the attack which hit the Two Saints church on the eve of Christmas to disseminate allegations that there is a systematic policy of repression against Coptic Christians in Egypt.”
Sorour also indicated that in a meeting with a delegation from the German parliament (Bundestag) yesterday, he stressed that “the terrorist attack against the Alexandria church targeted Muslims and Christians alike and that the European Parliament's statement about repression of Christians in Egypt is entirely unfounded.”
Joining forces with Sorour, NDP's senior MPs accused the European Parliament of issuing false statements and lies about Egypt. According to Abdel-Ahad Gamaleddin, NDP's spokesman in the People's Assembly, “the European Parliament's statement claiming that Coptic Christians face persecution and repression shows clearly that most European institutions are completely ignorant of the situation in Egypt.”
Amin Radi, chairman of the assembly's national security and defence committee, urged the European Parliament to exercise restraint before issuing any statements about religious conditions in Egypt. “The European Parliament should fully understand that the bomb attack against the Alexandria church was aimed at sowing the seeds of divisions between Christians and Muslims in Egypt rather than reflecting an official policy of repression and violence against Christians,” Radi said.
The opposition added its voice to the furor. Ragab Hilal Hemeida, representative of the Ghad party, accused the European Parliament of offering dirty money to its clients in Egypt to spread lies and instilling a kind of “creative chaos in the country.” He went on to say that “a clear proof of the European Parliament's ignorance of the conditions in Egypt is that Western countries like Germany, France and the United Sates face terrorist attacks against Muslims and one wonders does this reflect a systematic policy of repression against Muslims living in these countries.”
MPs also attacked Pope Benedict 16th for “issuing a statement that reflects the spirit of the Crusades.” Gamal Assad Abdel-Malak, an independent Coptic MP, called for the Pope to “stop recalling the spirit of the Crusades again because Copts in Egypt do not face repression and are not in need of protection of the Christian West.”
Abdel-Malak went on to evoke history and regional politics by saying: “Since Napolean Bonaparte's French Expedition until the Zionist colonialist campaign at present the West has been trying to exploit what is called “the Coptic issue” and religious minorities to interfere with the internal affairs of Egypt."
“Yes,” he added, “there are some discriminatory policies against the Copts in Egypt but these do not go to the extent of becoming a systematic policy of repression against Copts in Egypt.” Turning to the Egyptian government, he urged it “not to dig its head into the sands like ostrich and allege that everything is ok for Copts in Egypt.”
By launching “an open discussion” of the grievances of Copts in Egypt, the government, he claimed, would “close the door of foreign meddling.”
The Israeli intelligence agency – Mossad – was also singled out by MPs for sharp attacks. Saad Al-Gammal, a senior NDP politician and chairman of the assembly's Arab Affairs, accused Mossad and Al-Qai'ida of both having the same goal of inflaming sectarian tension in countries like Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
“The Israeli Mossad now serves the interests of the Qai'ida and vice versa but both will never be able to break the solidity of national unity in Egypt.”
Rafaat Seif, spokesman of the leftist Tagammu party, refused to join the anti-European Parliament rhetoric, opting to take the proliferation of anti-tolerance policies to task for paving the ground for the Alexandria terrorist crime.
“These policies included the growth of extremist education in private and government schools, the use of television and print media and mosques to spread hate against others, including Copts, and describing them as 'infidels',” said Seif.
NDP MPs raged against Seif, asking him to stop. Seif, allowed by Sorour to continue, went on to identify the Saudi “extremist ideology of Wahabi Islam to impose itself on Egypt at the expense of moderate and centrist ideology of Al-Azhar which calls for tolerance, freedom of religion and inter-faith dialogue.”