Christians in Egypt are going through unprecedented attacks, the general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK has claimed.
Bishop Angaelos said, having emerged from uprisings and changes in government, resulting pressures on the economy and infrastructure, and the loss of foreign investment and tourism, Egypt has become more vulnerable to a disturbing wave of radicalism.
Mr Angaelos said, ‘One of the manifestations of this radicalisation is that, despite a short period of apparent reprieve, it is regrettable the time has come yet again to speak of heightened, targeted attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt.
‘Tensions against Egypt’s indigenous Christian community have again escalated over the past few months, and will spiral even further if not immediately addressed’.
Bishop Angaelos said the exponential rise in attacks against Christians and Christian property in recent months can be attributed to inflammatory false rumours and accusations regarding alleged extra-marital relationships between Christians and Muslims, incendiary rumours relating to the building of new churches, and a growing trend towards the direct targeting of priests and their families.
‘At their most brutal’, he said, ‘these attacks have culminated in the burning of churches and places of worship, the stripping and public parading of 70-year-old Souad Thabet, and the senseless murder of Father Raphael Moussa’.
He acknowledged there had been a rejection of these attacks on Christians by the vast majority of Egypt’s 85 per cent Muslim population, themselves often targeted by the same radical elements, but there was a need for a robust system of law and order, responding to crime, irrespective of who it is perpetrated by or against.