April 18, 2014

Egypt: Why Are the Churches Burning?

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Source: New York Review of Books p>On a recent afternoon this month, in a busy downtown Cairo street, armed men exchanged gunfire, threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, and freely wielded knives in broad daylight. The two-hour fight, which began as an attempt by some shop-owners to extort the customers of others, left eighty-nine wounded and many stores destroyed. In the new Egypt, incidents like this are becoming commonplace. On many nights I go to bed to the sound of gunfire, and each morning I leaf through newspapers anticipating more stories of crime. Stopped at gun-point; car stolen; head severed; kidnapped from school, held at ransom; armed men storm police station opening fire and killing four; prison cells unlocked—91 criminals on the loose. Many people I know have already bought guns; on street corners metal bludgeons are being sold for $3; and every week I receive an email, or SMS or Facebook message about a self-defense course, or purse-size electrocution tool, or new … [Read more...]

Telegraph: Egyptian Christians say They are ‘Under Organised Attack’

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Source: The Telegraph A priest whose church was at the centre of sectarian riots at the weekend has said Egyptian Christians were "under organised attack" as religious authorities warned the country was at risk of civil war. Armed troops and riot police guarded the streets around St Mena's church and nearby burned-out shops and apartment blocks in the impoverished, crumbling Cairo suburb of Imbaba. Inside, Father Cherubim Awad said a conspiracy was the only possible explanation for the violence that had engulfed relations between Christians and Muslims in recent weeks. "Five churches were attacked on the same night," he said. "From the beginning of this year we have had all these attacks in a short space of time. "There is some hidden hand behind this, whether from inside the country or outside it." The street battles, which began on Saturday evening outside his church, demonstrated the breakdown in law and order in parts of Egypt that began during the uprising that … [Read more...]