Copts protest the injustice at Etfeeh

By Nader Shukry

Copts in the thousands are demonstrating in front of the Radio and Television building on the Nile Corniche in Cairo, protesting against what they see as the tyranny and grave injustice inflicted upon the Copts of the village of Sole in Etfeeh, Giza, who have been fiercely attacked and forced to flee their homes and livelihoods, while their church was set aflame.

The demonstrations began with a few hundred protesters on Saturday evening, but the numbers swelled on Sunday as the Coptic men, women, and children of Sole, who had been fled their village on Friday evening, joined in. The protesters called for immediate justice, and for the resignation of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi who heads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which now rules Egypt.

Even though Giza Bishop Anba Theodosius declared that the Armed Forces gave him a promise that it would rebuild the Sole church in a matter of two months, the demonstrators are not persuaded the army would keep its promise. The protesters are angry at the army which refrained from taking any action against the Muslims who attacked the Copts of Sole, but had—some 10 days ago—opened fire at the monks of Anba Bishoi monastery in the Western desert, seriously injuring six of them, on the pretext that the monastery had illegally built a wall to fence in disputed land.

The problem began in Sole last Tuesday, 1 March, when it was found out that a 35-year-old Muslim woman and a Copt in his forties—both are married—were having an illicit affair. In an attempt to contain the matter, a council of Muslim and Coptic village elders met on Wednesday and decided that the Copt and his family should leave the village, which he directly did. On Thursday a fight broke out between the woman’s extended family members who accused each other of letting matters get out of hand and tarnishing the family reputation. Two men, one of whom was the woman’s father and the other a relative, were killed in the fight.

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