Coptic Christian group sends letter to Islamist-parliament majority

Ahram Online, Sunday 22 Jan 2012

Maspero Coptic group expresses worry of an Islamist dominated parliament in letter to the two major Islamist parties

The Maspero Coptic Christian activist group has released a statement in the form of a letter addressed to the Islamist majority in parliament on Sunday, the day before their first scheduled meeting.

After parliamentary elections results revealed that Islamists, embodied in the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party, won 78 per cent of parliament, the Maspero group has written a letter questioning what the position of Egypt’s Coptic minority would be.

The letter, addressed to “the respectable majority in the first parliament after the revolution,” begins “we approach you with all respect although you never once respected us.”

Expressing discontent with the election results, the letter asks the Islamists whether they will treat Egypt’s Christians as equals and how they intend to deal with Christian women who will not be covering their hair or faces.

The Maspero group was formed following a Coptic sit-in that was staged in front of the Maspero television building demanding an end to discrimination against Copts. The sit-in was initiated after 12 Copts were killed on 8 May during clashes sparked by rumours that Christians were holding a woman who had converted to Islam. The Maspero area also witnessed the violent dispersal by the military of a Coptic rights march on 9 October, in which 26 protesters were killed, known as "Bloody Sunday." Video footage showed military armoured personnel carriers running over protesters.

Members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, estimated to be roughly 10 per cent of society, has been victim of several attacks in the recent years, the bloodiest being the Two Saints Church bombings in Alexandria on New Year's eve in 2010, leaving 23 dead and 97 injured. The military’s attack on Coptic protesters at Maspero, in addition to the rise of Islamists in parliament, has left Christians in Egypt feeling more vulnerable than before.

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