Informal reconciliation efforts welcome but law must be upheld in Egypt first: Minya Bishop

Ahram Online , Saturday 28 May 2016

The spokesperson of the Coptic Church on the recent sectarian attacks against Christians says perpetrators must be brought to justice

Minya Bishop
Bishop Macarius of Minya,Macarius (Ahram Arabic gate)

The Church rejects informal assemblies as a way to resolve sectarian issues since they harm and abort [legal efforts], Bishop Macarius of Minya and Abu Qirqas said in reference to non-governmental efforts to end tensions in the wake of last Friday's sectarian attack against Christians in Minya, Upper Egypt.

"The true perpetrators must be arrested, punished for their crimes to set an example for others," Macarius said in an interview on Dream channel on Friday.

The Bishop was referring to attempts by some religious figures to put an end to the saga that shocked the countrty by holding inter-faith community meetings.

Earlier on Friday, Egypt's Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, announced that Bishop Macarius was delegated to speak on behalf of the church on the Minya case.  

On Saturday, the interior ministry said 14 people have been arrested so far on suspicion of involvement in the sectarian mob attack in El-Karm village, which saw several Christian homes burned and an elderly woman the public stripped in public.

"A group of 300 people carrying various types of weapons went at 8pm on 20 May to attack seven houses owned by Christians, burgling some of them and torching others," a statement by the Coptic Orthodox Church read. The events were precipitated by rumours of a love affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman; the mob stripped naked the man's mother, an elderly woman, according to the statement.

Bishop Macarius said reconciliatory assemblies can be held once justice is achieved.

Reconciliation assemblies are regularly held by religious and community leaders to resolve sectarian tensions among Muslims and Christians in an extra-legal manner in Egyptian villages.

He added that a public official must be questioned for responsibilty in the attack but did not name names.

Also on Thursday, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for the arrest of those involved in the mob attack and urged the government to take "necessary measures to preserve public order, protect [citizens] and property within the rule of law."

He also issued directives to the provincial governor to restore all damaged buildings in coordination with the armed forces within one month and at the government's expense.

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