Minya bishop, Maspero Youth Union slam reconciliation meeting over sectarian clashes

Ahram Online, Monday 12 Aug 2013

Egypt's Christian youth group demands 'end to customary reconciliation sessions', calls on state to take responsibility for recent sectarian clashes in Minya

 General Bishop of Minya
Bishop Macarios , the general Bishop of Minya (Photo: Ahram)

Bishop General of Minya Anba Macarios has stated that the reconciliation meeting held on Sunday between Minya's Christians and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi ended without compensation or guarantees against future attacks.

A traditional reconciliation meeting was held in the governorate on Sunday between clan elders, government officials, and representatives from both the church and Al-Azhar following the violent sectarian clashes that took place in the village of Beni Ahmed last week.

The clashes between Christian locals and supporters of former president Morsi began when a Christian citizen played a song praising the army for ousting Morsi publicly in the street.

"Christian citizens are complaining. After all, they are the victims and there are no guarantees that it won't happen again or that the LE 3.5 million in losses will be compensated," Bishop Macarios told Al-Ahram's Arabic website on Monday.

"Where is the security? Where is the rule of law?" Bishop Macarios asked.

"The government did not compensate Christians for those losses from the clashes despite the well-documented looting that took place," he added

"The Church will not be able to compensate the people in Minya as its money is allocated for the poor, sick and orphaned," said the Bishop, adding that "the Church will not compensate citizens who were publicly looted as that is the responsibility of the state."

"Sectarian incidents involving violence against Christians do not always include state compensation, yet there are some cases in which the state compensated citizens, such as the 2011 Imbaba clashes," Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) researcher Ishak Ibrahim told Ahram Online.

"State compensation usually does not exceed or even equal the losses, but it has a significant meaning. It means that the state is still involved despite its failure to prevent these sectarian attacks from happening," said Ibrahim.

"The problem is not with the reconciliation meetings so much as it is about how the law is applied during these meetings. Among the terms of the reconciliation was to withdraw the Christian's complaints against the assailants, yet the law should be applied even if both parties reconcile," added the EIPR researcher, demanding that the prosecution investigate the attacks in accordance with the law.

According to a statement issued by the Diocese of Minya and Abu Qirqas last week, the financial losses of Christians in Beni Ahmed amount to LE 3,363,000. The losses ranged from looted shops to torched vehicles and homes.

Maspero Youth Union, a Christian youth group, rejected the reconciliation meeting in Minya, describing it as sign of "state collapse" in a Monday statement.

"The Maspero Youth Union reaffirms its total rejection of any customary reconciliation sessions or any attempts to destroy state sovereignty and rule of law," read the statement.

The Christian group also published the reconciliation terms, describing them as "shameful." The terms included the Church's compensation of the affected Christians, the expulsion of the Christian who played the pro-army song, the dropping of all complaints made by Christians against the assailants, and a LE2 million fine for anyone not complying with these conditions.

"The Maspero Youth Union demands an end to the so-called customary reconciliation sessions and calls for the law's application without delay. It also demands that the state take responsibility for the systematic acts of bullying and terrorism in all parts of the country, and for the arrest and prosecution of these criminals. The union calls on the Egyptian judiciary … to apply the principles of justice and rule of law against those who attempt to build state customs and not state law," the statement proclaimed.

Minya's branch of the ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya group issued a statement on Monday claiming that the Islamist group participated in the reconciliation process, from which it claims that state and governorate officials were completely absent.

"The group was surprised by the governorate statement claiming that reconciliation took place between Christians and Muslims in the village thanks to the governor's efforts, when in fact that he did not participate and ignored the efforts of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya to end tensions" asserted the Islamist group in a statement demanding the governor's apology.

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