Copts' resume demonstrations in anger

Ekram Ibrahim , Thursday 19 May 2011

Maspero demonstrations resumed as hundreds of Copts returned in rage after hearing that two of the three churches meant to reopen today remained close due to Salafist protest

Copts maspero

Hours after announcing the suspension of their sit-in, hundreds of Copts resumed their demonstration with even more anger in front of the state TV building at Maspero after they were informed that two of the three churches scheduled to be opened today were not opened. The decision to resume the sit-in came soon after the demonstrators had to end the demonstration in response to Father Flopateer’s and other heads of the protesters’ decision.

“We will stay here till all our demands are met, even if we die because we are already dead,” one Coptic protestor told Ahram Online.

Among the promises made by the military council to the leaders of the demonstration was a schedule to opening the closed churches – three of which were scheduled to reopen today.

However, Virgin Church in Ain Shams, Cairo was not opened as hundreds of – thought to be – Salafists began protesting outside the church against its reopening. As for Maghagha Church in Minya, an employee at the Minya governorate’s office of legal affairs said he has not received the necessary documents to open the church that was closed. As it stands, the only reopened church was in Assiut.

Copts are, in response, resuming their demonstrations today till the two churches are reopened. Early this afternoon, the sit-in organisers announced the a suspension of their protest until 27 May.

“Sixteen churches are scheduled for reopening by next Wednesday,” stated Father Bacelious Labib, a participant in the Maspero demonstration.

Several Copts have conveyed resentment, asking why the majority of society is allowing a minority to get away with such actions. “Very few Muslims are taking part in the demonstrations; I think they want us to leave the country,” stated one of the Maspero protesters.

 “Why do Salafists protest against opening a church and not a night club for example?” questioned one Coptic demonstrator.

During the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, 48 churches were closed for different reasons. “Every now and then, State Security used to shut-down a church,” Labib stated.

Copts have been demonstrating at Maspero for 12 days now since the burning of Copts’ houses and two churches in Imbaba. Pope Shenouda III previously stated that the Maspero demonstrations would not help the Copts’ situation.

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