Egypt parties, activists decry forced Christian evictions *Egyptian police prevent Christian protesters from reaching parliament

February 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Egypt, newsletter-lead, Persecution, World

Egypt ChristiansEgypt, February 13, 2012: A number of Egypt’s political parties and movements issued a statement decrying the forced eviction of Coptic families in the al-Nahda village of the al-Ameriyah area of Alexandria. It comes as the incident has raised widespread controversy within the Egyptian Parliament, as a group of Coptic Youth movements marched on the Parliament Sunday to protest the ongoing forced eviction of Coptic families.

Their protest led to a hearing held by Parliament’s Human Rights Committee and number of inquiries submitted by several MPs to the Speaker of the Parliament.

Member of the Parliament Emad Gad confirmed on Sunday the continued efforts to address the “scheme” to displace Christian Egyptian families in al-Ameriyah, and stressed on his official Facebook page that he “discussed the issue with a number of human rights activists and will address the crisis at different levels so as to put an end to this crime.”

Gad, one of the founders of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, confirmed that the liberal and left-wing political forces are considering all possibilities, “including mass resignations from parliament if it fails to lay the foundations of citizenship and equality in a civil state that prevents discrimination amongst all of its citizens.”

The crisis erupted when a Coptic man was alleged to have had an affair with a married Muslim woman, which led to clashes between the two families, and resulted in the torching of Christian houses.

A “customary hearing” to achieve reconciliation among the disputing parties was then held, and a decree was issued by an ultra-conservative Salafist sheikh in the village to deport Coptic families from the village and sell their property.

Political forces have condemned the eviction and issued a statement, describing the ruling of the informal hearings as “collective punishment without any legal basis and would stir sectarian strife.”

Among the signatories of the statement were the Popular Socialist Coalition Party, The Egyptian Social Democratic Party and Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination Movement, whose joint statement, entitled, “No to customary hearings, yes to justice,” denounced the current incidents in al-Ameriyah.

The statement said that security forces “failed to perform its duties and protect the Christian houses and then sponsored a customary reconciliation session that led to a decree to evict a number of Coptic families.”

It called on the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, who now hold the majority in Parliament, “to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of law and human rights and the seriousness in engaging in the state, which is only ruled by law that everyone is seeking to build, and stop getting involved in traditional customary sessions, which is a violation of law and its role in society.”

The statement continued to demand a fair trial before a civil court and to include all those involved in the crime of “sedition, theft, looting and burning the property of Christian citizens.”

The statement added, “We hold the state authorities, particularly the military junta, full responsibility, which has not sent any troops or leaders to contain the situation, the Ministry of Interior, which stood still at the outbreak of the events, and contributed directly to dispel the rule of law when it opened its headquarters for informal reconciliation meetings.”

It demanded the application of the law strictly and impartially, and to “maintain the rule of law and the arrest of culprits who stole and looted and burned the houses of their neighbors, and bring them to justice and to stop resorting to these informal meetings, in cases of sectarian violence, and to protect the lives and money and property of the Christians of the village.”

– bikyamasr(dot)com

Egyptian police prevent Christian protesters from reaching parliament


Egyptian Police Prevent Christian Protesters From Reaching ParliamentEgypt, February 13, 2012: Egyptian Security forces yesterday prevented a rally of hundreds of Copts and activists from various political groups from reaching the Egyptian Parliament. The rally was staged to condemn the eviction of 8 Coptic families from their homes in El-Ameriya in Alexandria, on January 27.

The protestors were angry at the Parliament Speaker, who ignored last week an urgent request submitted by elected Coptic member of Parliament Dr. Emad Gad, to discuss this issue. The protesters said they wanted to meet with members of parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi parties to inform them of their condemnation of the events in El-Ameriya.

Two Copts, Hani Ramsis and John Talaat, were chosen as delegates to the Parliament Speaker to deliver the message “No to reconciliation sittings or to the displacement of the Copts in El-Ameriya.”John Talaat, former elections candidate for Parliament, said that what is going on is a “farce caused by lack of security and we are here to deliver the message, and we demand a formal questioning of the Minister of Interior regarding this deportation [of the Coptic families from the village].”

Dr. Emad Gad, Coptic member of Parliament, presented on February 7 an urgent request, supported by 22 signatures of liberal members of parliament, to the Parliament Speaker, Dr. Saad el Katatny, who is from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Liberty and Justice Party, to discuss the Eviction of 8 Coptic families and the seizure of their property. The request was ignored. “Katatny just folded the paper I presented and put it on his desk”, said Dr. Gad. “Within a tribe, in the desert, or in a tent, you apply these unofficial reconciliation sittings, but in Egypt we have civil law.” Dr. Gad, who is deputy director of the Al-Ahram Institute of Strategic Studies, said he would escalate the matter further if the Parliament does not respond to this issue. He was due to submit another request to the Speaker today.

Today’s a meeting was held in a room in the Parliament, attended by several members of parliament, mainly liberals and Copts. It also included the three MPs from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi parties who were involved in the reconciliation sitting. Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination presented a petition, signed by 13 NGOs, to the Speaker, criticizing the military and security authorities for not protecting the Copts and for giving their blessings to “the shameful reconciliation sittings.”

Sheikh Sherif al-Hawary, who was present at the meeting, pointed out that he intervened after the people of the village contacted him due to the lack of police presence and their inability to enforce the law, and that his primary aim was to prevent the shedding of blood.

Liberals and Copts insisted there has to be an end to collective punishment, forced eviction of Copts and reconciliation sittings, and that the rule of law has to prevail. Some of the attendees joined in the debate and unanimously agreed that the family of Abeskhayroun Soliman should not be evicted. They also discussed a solution to apply the law and provide means for protecting this family in view of the prevailing lack of security.

The meeting established a fact-finding commission affiliated to the parliamentary human rights committee, to be made up of all Alexandria members of parliament and two Coptic members.

Dr. Emad Gad, in an interview tonight on CTV Coptic Channel, was optimistic that the parliamentary commission would develop recommendations to stop eviction and put an end to reconciliation sittings and the application of the law. “These recommendation will be presented to parliament and if it passes through parliament I believe this will be a significant achievement, because parliament can oblige the government to apply them.”Other Coptic observers did not seem to share Dr. Gad’s optimism, but rather anticipated that there will be a chain of parliamentary committees and no results in the end.

– assyrian intl news agency

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