Violent Attacks in Cairo Depict a Strong Issue With Violations Against Freedom of Religion

Violent attacks against Coptic Christians this past Sunday in Cairo have left 25-29 dead and at least 279 wounded according to the Health Ministry toll. Within these numbers, 17 deceased were believed to be civilians and 12 were army troops. During a protest in response to the burning of the Mar Girgis church in Edfu, Aswan on September 30th, a group of Coptic Christians state they were attacked by thugs, which escalated into a violent conflict between Muslims, Christians and military officials. This protest was a demand for equality and protection of Coptic places of worship, seeing as a Coptic church was bombed in January as well.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” In Egypt, the Coptic Church has been separate from the Catholic Church since the 5th Century due to a disagreement over the definition of the divinity of Christ. This particular attack was the most violent attack Egypt has seen since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February. Tension has been growing between the military and the youth groups that engineered the uprising, with activists blaming the generals for mishandling the transition period, human rights violations and driving a wedge between them and ordinary Egyptians.

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