The Coptic Orthodox Church has identified five demands for President Mohamed Morsy to resolve the sectarian crises that have erupted in various parts of the country.
“We demand the president to apply the law to everyone, ensure safety and security in the entire country, activate fully the principle of citizenship, amend religious discourse, and teach Coptic history in schools,” Father Makary Habib, the personal secretary to Pope Tawadros II, told the Turkish Anadolu News on Wednesday.
“The absence of the law treated Copts as if they were second class citizens,” Habib said, adding that what is happening now is the result of thirty years of sectarian problems under the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.
“We are tired of painkillers,” he said, hinting to informal and customary solutions. “We need concrete steps.”
Habib said that absence of the rule of law is the reason behind the current crisis, and called for the law to be enforced and called for the arrest of those those who inciting the sectarian sedition. He pointed specifically to the imam of mosque who said, “whoever finds a Copt should kill him.”
He said that the church documented the attack on it on video, and that it will submit it to the investigation authorities so as not to rely only on the cameras of the Interior Ministry.
Habib said the footage was taken by surveillance cameras before they were destroyed by the attackers to investigations authorities.
“Copts constitute 20 percent of the Egyptian community,” he said. “This means they have the right to 100 seats out of 500 in parliament, and the same percentage in ministries, among governors and university presidents, and in the army and police.”
He also said the church awaits the results of the investigations in the Khosous and cathedral incidents before it decides as to whether it would hold a dialogue with the president.
Eight people were killed since Friday and dozens of others were wounded in sectarian strife acts, beginning with a fight between a Christian and a Muslim family in Khosous, Qaliubiya, which killed four Christians and a Muslim, and ending with three more dead at the funeral of the four Coptic victims.
He told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the vehicles stationed next to the cathedral belonged to Copts attending the funeral, denouncing accusations that funeral goers vandalized them.
Habib slammed Essam al-Haddad, the president’s assistant, for saying that gunmen shot at police from above the walls of the cathedral. “Those were insurgents,” he said. “How can a senior official come up with such a statement?”
He said the pope will end his retreat inside the Wadi al-Natroun Monastery in a matter of days and return to the cathedral. “We welcome the president's visit to offer his condolences for our martyrs when the pope returns.”
He also warned that such incidents could drive Copts to emigrate, which the pope is against.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm