For 21-year-old Rojeh Reda, a Christian living in Cairo’s working-class district of Shubra, the recent rash of sectarian violence in Egypt feels like a movie he’s already watched.
He knows the script by heart now: Christians and Muslims clash, mostly Christians are killed, the government does nothing to help and the faint spark of change vanishes in a flash.
Since last Friday, eight people have been killed and dozens of others wounded in sectarian strife that began with a fight between a Christian and Muslim family outside of Cairo. On Sunday, an angry mob of Muslims threw firebombs and rocks at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, leaving two people dead.
With a president who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood and a new constitution that critics say offers religious minorities, especially Copts, little to no protection, existential fear has pervaded Egypt’s Christian minority, who make up around 10 percent of the population.
On Tuesday, in his first direct criticism of President Mohammed Morsi, the new leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, lambasted the country’s Islamist president for his inept management of the recent violence. In a telephone interview on a local television program, Tawadros said Morsi’s handling of the crisis “comes under the category of negligence and poor assessment of events.” He and others have also chided the government for their recent talk on creating more committees and groups to deal with the issue, instead of taking real actions on the ground.
Father Makary Habib, Tawadros’ personal secretary, told the Turkish Anadolu News on Wednesday, “We demand the president to apply the law to everyone, ensure safety and security in the entire country, activate fully the principle of citizenship, amend religious discourse, and teach Coptic history in schools.”