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Egyptian political activists to visit Soul today

The National Association for Change's visit to the village of Soul, to seek a solution to the sectarian tensions that have erupted in violence and the destruction of a church, one of a number of planned visits and events

Dina Samak , Wednesday 9 Mar 2011

The revolution youth coalition, the National Association for Change, and a number of intellectuals are on their way to the village of Soul in Helwan to meet with community leaders. The visit is an attempt to bring under control the escalating tension in the village after a church was torched Friday following clashes between two families.

The youth coalition called on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to rebuild the church in its original place and to give clear guarantees that the demands of the village’s Christians will be met.

"The freedom of expression and worship and the respect of places of worship is a red line," says a statement posted on the coalition’s Facebook page. "We are sure that the Egyptian Armed Forces and its high council are aware of the legitimacy and importance of the freedom of worship and belief and the right of expressing this freedom in public."

The visit to Soul comes after a bloody night in which ten were killed in sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians around Cairo's Manshiyet Nasr district yesterday. Meanwhile, a Coptic sit-in outside state television headquarters enters its fifth day with the protesters insisting their demands are yet to be fulfilled. "The State TV says that most of the families displaced from the village returned to their homes, however this is not true," says Bishoy Temry, a Christian political activist.

According to Temry, there are still tens of families unable to reach the village which still suffers from acute tension on both sides. "It is very important that different groups go to the village to show solidarity with the Christians there," says Temry, "But it is more important that the government and the Army take steps to assure the safety of the Christians in the village and elsewhere," he adds.

The youth coalition's initiative to visit Soul today is not the only act of solidarity planned. The grand sheikh of Al-Azhar has announced that he will personally visit the village. Also Sheikh Mohamed Hassan, the famous Salafi cleric, and the popular preacher Amr Khaled are expected to visit the village today to meet with the heads of the Muslim and Christian families in an attempt at reconciliation. A million march from Tahrir Square to Soul in the Friday of "national unity" is also being organized.

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