November 17, 2012

Coptics: Strong faith, cloudy future

At this year's annual pilgrimage, a sense of persecution reigns with Muslim hardliners in control.

By HAMZA HENDAWI The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

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Coptics participate in a mass in Cairo. Egypt’s Christian minority fears discrimination has worsened since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago and the subsequent rise to power of Islamists.

The Associated Press

Amid the festivities, the growing problems of Christians felt far away.

"I don't get upset so much now when I hear about Christians getting killed," said Kirolos Anas, a 25-year-old decorator. "It has become routine, and it is for God to hold the killers accountable."

But Bishop Bieman said the youth in his diocese of Negada and Qos in Qena province were showing signs of dissent, growing more assertive in their demands for Christian equality. They say the church has been too pacifist, he said. "We urge them to join political parties, trade unions and student bodies, to fully interact with society" to seek their demands, the bishop said.

"The danger facing our people is that their ceiling of expectations has been significantly raised since the revolution toppled Mubarak's regime and the freedoms that followed," he said. "But, instead, we are suffering now more than we did under Mubarak."

Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, has done little more than pay lip service to Christian rights, many Christians say.

Bishop Marcus, of Shubra, met Morsi for two hours on Aug. 22 with other clergymen.

"We had tea and were warmly greeted. We talked about everything that we need to see changed," said Marcus. "He never said no to any demand we raised." But, he added, "we are still waiting for action."

Then his voice grew angrier.

"Why can't the president be decisive and delve into the case file of the Christians? Are Christians a part of the fabric of this nation or not?"

 

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