EGYPT (ACN News): The leader of Catholics in Egypt has defended the memory of “honest and sincere” Copts whose protest ended in violence and death and has called on the regime to step up security and do more to uphold the rule of law.
In an official statement about the October 9 pro-Christian demonstrations in Cairo, Patriarch Cardinal Antonios Naguib of Alexandria went on to call on Christians not to be deterred and to continue to “participate” in political action towards the creation of a new Egypt post-Mubarak.
The document, a copy of which was sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, underlines the Patriarch’s “full confidence” in the interim military regime after criticism about the Government’s response to the demonstrations, which led to the deaths of about 25 people with 329 injured.
Patriarch Naguib, who is head of Egypt’s 250,000-strong Coptic Catholic Church, writes: “With wounded hearts, we … express our deep sorrow for the bloody events suffered by honest and sincere children of the nation.
“They wanted to contribute to the country’s democratic process with peaceful demonstrations like hundreds of other citizen groups.
“Unfortunately, it ended with the violent death of around 25 people, the vast majority of whom were Copts …” The violence broke out at the height of the demonstrations as thousands of people – including many Muslims – marched to the state television centre in Cairo, in protest at acts of persecution and oppression against Christians.
The following day, official spokesman of the Catholic Church in Egypt Fr Antoine Rafic Greiche implicated the regime, saying the army and police had “used” a “rabble army” who hit out against the protesters using sticks, stones, swords and rifles.
But making no comment on the security service’s response to the demonstrations, Patriarch Naguib in his letter called on the regime to renew its commitment to upholding the rule of law.
“While condemning again all acts of violence, we call on officials to … provide security and safety and uphold the law’s supremacy and ensure the objectivity of the media,” he said.
“We have full confidence that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the Government and the Judiciary are able to lead the country to stability and security, ensuring the well being and dignity of all its citizens.”
Patriarch Naguib ends his letter with a call to all Christians not to be deterred by the events of October 9 and to continue to be politically active.
In a reference to parliamentary elections due to start next month he said: “We call on (Christians) to participate, in Egypt and abroad, in the current political and electoral process.
“This is a sacred duty which (the Church) is not allowed to abdicate, aiming at establishing a modern, democratic state, based on the law, full citizenship, equality, justice and the guarantee of freedoms.”
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