Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has apologised to his nation’s Christians for the violent attacks in August 2013 that damaged or destroyed at least 65 churches and Coptic properties, including businesses, across Egypt.
Coming after the ouster of President Morsi, the wave of violence was said to be the worst attack on its Christian minority in well over 1,000 years. (In April 2015 a court sentenced 71 people to life imprisonment for attacking and burning one church alone during the violence.)
Standing next to Coptic Pope Tawadros II during the Orthodox Church’s Christmas Eve mass on 6 January, al-Sisi declared: “Please accept our apologies for what happened … God willing … by next year there won’t be a single house or church that is not restored. We have taken too long to fix and renovate [churches] that were burned. This year everything will be fixed.”
But according to Jeremy Moodey, chief executive of UK-based NGO Embrace the Middle East, “It will cost a lot of money, and I think that’s one of the question marks … The Egyptian economy is in a mess. The government is in the grip of a major security crisis with Islamist insurgents in the Sinai and elsewhere. Whether it has got the resources to commit to this rebuilding programme remains to be seen. I think it’s possible this is just a symbolic measure.”
Moodey told Premier Christian Radio’s News Hour that Christians in Egypt have benefitted from al-Sisi’s government. “He needs to go with the flow of the Muslim majority. But what he has brought is a degree of security to some extent, especially to Cairo and to Alexandria. He has rolled back some of the more extremist measures introduced by the Muslim Brotherhood. He seems to be a more inclusive president, and his visit to the Cathedral was symbolic of that.”
Al-Sisi broke all precedents last Christmas when he became the first Egyptian president to attend a Christmas Eve mass.
Source: Egyptian Streets