The US should make further cuts in foreign aid to Egypt if its government does not tackle the escalation in violence against the country’s Coptic Christians, an imam has said.
“World leaders cannot continue to ignore the ongoing persecution of Coptic Christians,” Imam Tawhidi, president of the Islamic Association of South Australia, wrote in an article for the news website Al Bawaba, adding that “it’s seriously time for people of influence to unite in order to end [the violence]”.
There have been over 400 violent incidents against Copts since 2013, according to the Washington DC-based Tahrir Institute. It makes them the “most persecuted Christians in the world, and the most persecuted minority in Muslim-majority nations”, said Tawhidi, who criticised mainstream media for failing to report the atrocities.
Egypt: Coptic Christian Bishop @AnbaMacarius standing on the ruins of his Church after it was completely destroyed by Islamist thugs. He was lucky to flee an assassination attempt in 2013. Truly heartbreaking. pic.twitter.com/6UseXKjdZc
— Imam Tawhidi (@Imamofpeace) September 10, 2018
Egypt’s Copts, who account for around 10 per cent of the population, have experienced a wave of attacks by militants belonging to, or inspired by, the Islamic State group, which last year vowed to “wipe them out”.
IS claimed responsibility for three church bombings in 2016 and 2017 in which 70 people were killed and more than 100 injured.
Imam Tawhidi said the Egyptian government has the responsibility to protect its citizens from Islamic extremists who, most recently, attacked Copts multiple times and in several places during the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha. One week earlier a suicide attack on a Coptic church in north Cairo, Egypt, was thwarted.
“Laws to protect religious minorities should be introduced into Egypt’s legal system; the same way other religious minorities are being protected in the West,” the imam said.
If all fails “it would be reasonable for the Coptic Church to call for Egypt’s government to be formally investigated for neglecting the Coptic minority; a matter which could eventually lead to a Coptic state,” he added.
Imam Tawhidi, known for his role in interfaith diplomacy, last year volunteered to defend Jakarta’s Christian ex-governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (better known as “Ahok”) during his blasphemy trial.