Coptic Bishop: No Civil War in Egypt
19 Aug 2013 CAIRO (CNS) — A Coptic Catholic bishop who served as a member of the assembly that drafted Egypt’s 2012 constitution said his country will not have a civil war, and foreign powers — including the United Nations — should not interfere.
In a wide-ranging interview with Arab West Report, Bishop Youhanna Golta of Alexandria, Egypt, also said people must view Egypt as a whole and not just be concerned about Coptic Christians. He discussed the history of Islam and asked for patience for Egyptian democracy, reminding people that European democracy took four centuries to evolve, and Egyptians have only had two or three years.
“Civil war is when a part of the country turns against the other part. This is not the case in Egypt,” the bishop said on 15 August, the day after more than 600 people were killed and several thousand injured after a police crackdown on people protesting the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi.
“In Egypt, the people are united against a certain group that doesn’t represent more than 2 percent of the country,” he said, referring to extremists within the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi belongs. “This cannot be called a civil war; these are called [acts of] terrorism.
“With respect to the burning of the churches, I said today in the Akhbar newspaper that ‘burning of the churches makes us [Christians] proud, because we are contributing to the liberation of Egypt,’“ said the bishop, who serves as an assistant to the Coptic Catholic patriarch.
Some Egyptian media published a list of all the Christian buildings and residences that had been burned in recent months. Church leaders condemned the attacks and, after the 14 August violence, called off vigil services for the 15 August feast of the Assumption.
Arab West Report is an online magazine dedicated to fostering greater understanding and tolerance between Arab and Western cultures. The interview with Bishop Golta was reprinted on the website of the Oasis Center, which Milan Cardinal Angelo Scola established to promote Christian-Muslim dialogue.
Most of Bishop Golta’s interview with Arab West Report was conducted on 13 August and, in it, the bishop called discrimination against Christians an “ideological and strategic mistake by extremist groups.”
“There is no street or alley in Egypt that does not have both Muslims and Christians living together,” he said. “It is impossible that Egypt gets divided. Egyptians are indivisible.”
He said that, historically, Islam was “the only religion that did not plan on eliminating other people.”
“Occupiers usually requested the occupied people convert their religions to those of their occupiers,” he said. “Muslims did not do that. [Extremists] are deleting this icon in Islamic history.”
The bishop rejected the term “Coptic issues,” used to refer to issues that concern Egypt’s Christians.
“We don’t have Coptic issues, we have Egyptian issues,” the bishop said. “That Copts are granted their rights while Muslims are deprived of them is not acceptable to me and indeed impossible to achieve. That the Copts undergo development while the Muslims live miserably is unacceptable and will not happen.
Tags: Egypt Coptic Catholic Church Egypt's Christians Coptic Church Egypt's Bishops