More than 2000 people gathered in front of the al-Fateh mosque in Ramses Square on Friday to show their unrelenting anger over the Father Bishoy controversy. Bishoy, secretary of the Coptic Church’s Holy Synod, made statements recently that questioned the authenticity of some Quranic verses.
The demonstrators also called for the “release of Muslim women held in Christian prisons.”
Members of the Holy Synod declined to comment on the protest and said only Pope Shenouda III has the right to do so. However, they condemned accusations leveled at the church and its leaders.
The protesters belonged to both a salafi reform movement called Hafs and the Islamist lawyers of the Lawyers Syndicate. They accused Father Bishoy of exacerbating sectarian tension and urged the government to remove him from his position.
The leader of the protest criticized the government for failing to issue a formal response to Father Bishoy’s statements while also accusing “agents of the U.S.” of fueling Egypt's recent sectarian strife.
Dozens of women participated in the protest and carried banners demanding the release of Kamilia Shehata, the wife of Tedaous Samaan, a bishop in Minya. Shehata disappeared from her home in July and was returned to the church after authorities located her. Subsequently unknown sources released controversial pictures of her wearing the niqab.
Father Bassanti, bishop for Helwan and Masara, said Pope Shenouda III made three media appearances last week in order to maintain stability. He added that the pope is following all developments closely.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.