Dozens in Tahrir protest against Endowments Ministry, sectarian strife

Dozens of activists marched from Tahrir Square to Dobara Church on Friday in protest against a statement issued by the Ministry of Endowments that instructed its employees not to have any dealings with the Evangelical Church without the ministry’s permission.

Protesters denounced the statement, calling it a “serious declaration of sectarian strife and an incitement against Christians.”

Mohamed Gilany, a member of the “Stand up, Egyptians” movement and the Committee for the Defense of Al-Azhar, said that the Dobara Church played a pivotal role during the 25 January revolution, and even helped President Mohamed Morsy come to power. It had been the site of a field hospital to treat wounded protesters, without ever discriminating between Muslims and Christians, he said.

Members of several political movements and religious figures participated in the march, including the General Union of Sufi Forces, Sheikh Mazhar Shaheen, media producer Medhat al-Adl and former MP Hamdy al-Fakharany.

Regarding the motivation behind issuing the controversial statement, Endowments Ministry spokesperson Osama Abdel Qawy said, “We noticed […] the Church only invites certain people to attend its activities, and the ministry rejects this way of dealing with only some of its members.”

On Friday morning the ministry issued another statement assuring that it maintains good relations with all Christian churches in Egypt, and pointed out that the ministry objects to its preachers being invited to attend church activities through personal invitations, as opposed to through the ministry.

Abdel Qawy insisted that the ministry's first statement was misinterpreted, stressing there is no problem between the Endowments Ministry and the Evangelical Church.

Protesters speaking from the main stage in Tahrir called for a march to the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace in Heliopolis at 4 pm on Friday to demand the removal of President Mohamed Morsy, and to denounce the recent sectarian violence in Khosous and at the St. Marks Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbasseya.

The majority of the protesters gathered in front of a stage set up with several speakers near the American University in Cairo’s downtown campus.

Some protesters stood in the middle Tahrir and chanted slogans against the recent sectarian violence: "Secular, secular, Egypt will remain dear to me," "No Brothers, no Salafis, yes to national unity," and "National unity against one authority slaughtering us."

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Related Articles

Back to top button