Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya condemns Copts’ protests, hints at church documents forgery

Ahram Online, Thursday 6 Oct 2011

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya says Coptic protests 'meaningless' and part of 'misleading propaganda' to exaggerate levels of sectarian strife in Egypt


Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya has said it deplores recent protests by Copts that began following last month’s ‎sectarian tensions in Aswan, Upper Egypt.‎

Egypt’s 10 per cent Coptic population has been fuming since a group of Muslims in ‎Merinab village in Aswan attempted to block renovations underway at a Christian ‎church in the majority Muslim village, charging that the building was actually a ‎‎‘guesthouse’ that cannot be turned into a church.  ‎

The incident was followed by many protests in Cairo and Aswan. Last Tuesday, ‎hundreds of angry Copts tried to stage a sit-in before the State Radio and ‎Television building in Maspero – the venue of previous Coptic sit-ins – but were forcibly dispersed by military forces.

Al-Jamaa says the incident was associated with “misleading propaganda” and followed ‎by “meaningless” sit-ins. ‎

The Islamist group believes there are attempts to convince the public that sectarian strife ‎and persecution against Copts are rife in Egypt these days. ‎

Official documents were presented by Christians verifying that the building in Merinab ‎has been a licensed church for 80 years, in response to Muslims claiming otherwise.

Al-Jamaa said the documents are a “forgery,” ‎but it rejects the unapproved demolition of any building, saying authorities should make ‎such decisions. ‎

“We are calling on all the country’s devotees and intellectuals to stand up against all ‎attempts to re-ignite sectarian strife,” Al-Jamaa said in its statements. ‎

Last May, sectarian strife in Egypt was at its worst after Copts and Muslims exchanged ‎gunfire, Molotov cocktails and stones for hours, an incident that saw deaths on both ‎sides.

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