Several writers commented on the situation of Egypt’s Christian community given recent controversy in the Upper Egypt governorate of Minya and possible tensions.
In the privately-owned Al-Watan newspaper, Magda Al-Gindi touched upon the issue of worship places for Coptic citizens, highlighting how the government has undermined churches over the years and the challenge to make real the desire of Egypt, represented by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, to build the country upon equal rights and citizenship principles. In an illustrating example, Al-Gindi recalled a visit to a girls’ school in Sohag, Upper Egypt, where there was a praying space for Muslims but none for Christian students.
In a related topic, Gamal Zaida tackled the renewal of religious discourse, in his piece for state-owned daily Al-Ahram, arguing the issue has been so far handled in a superficial way and should not be the responsibility of Al-Azhar alone. Zaida called for the establishment of a committee representing the Islamic institution, the church, and experts in culture, education, and security sectors to work on reinforcing social values of tolerance.
In Al-Ahram, Osama Al-Ghazaly Harb wrote that he was concerned about Egypt’s greatest value, its national unity and citizenship rights regardless of race and religion, becoming jeopardized by religious fanaticism and terrorism. Harb pointed at the policeman who shot dead two Coptic citizens, which seems to have taken a sectarian dimension despite that it was not, criticising Coptic channels which contributed to such interpretations and increasing tensions.
“My Christian brother, I love you” was the title of Hamdy Rizk’s op-ed in state-owned Al-Akhbar, which he dedicated to Egypt’s Coptic community ahead of Christmas. Rizk considered a series of tensions in villages of Minya as a conspiracy to initiate sectarian strife but that Christians know the amount of love Muslims have for them and are keen on not being dragged into this.
On a slightly different subject about the Coptic church in Egypt, Mina Badea wrote in the private Al-Dostour newspaper about the origins of its conflict with the Ethiopian church which according to him date back to 1929, over leadership mainly, stating the attempts of reconciliation in the 1930s and agreement to appoint an Egyptian archbishop and the hiring of Ethiopian priests for the first time in history, until Italy invaded Ethiopia and kicked out the church’s Egyptian leader resulting in an Egyptian reaction of banning Ethiopian priests from performing their religious rituals.