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Anarchy fears for Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, February 17, 2012 p 8. February 23, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Politics.
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Bishop Mouneer Anis

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The promises of the Arab Spring have failed to flower, the Bishop of Egypt reports.

In a 6 February 2012 letter to the Jerusalem and Middle East Church Association Dr. Mouneer Anis reports that his country is “is undergoing a very, very difficult time. It looks as if the country is experiencing labor pains which may end up by the birth of a new baby, a new democratic Egypt. But it could also be the pains prior to a stillbirth, or an abortion.”

The latest round of violence follows the deaths of spectators at a football game in Port Said on 1 Feb.  Following a game between the Al-Masry home team and the visiting Al-Ahly club from Cairo, supporters of Al-Masry attacked fans from Cairo.  The Ministry of Health reported that 74 people were killed in the fighting and 400 were injured.

The deaths sparked protests in Cairo and a Feb 3 march on the Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for the police who have been blamed for allowing the riot to escalate into a massacre.  Protestors battled with the police, who dispersed the crowd with tear gas.  Riots also erupted in Alexandria and Suez, where 3 people died after a mob ransacked the main police station.

Bishop Anis wrote that it was “very difficult to understand why” the Port Said riot took place.  “Many people believe that this massacre was an arranged by the old regime. I can hardly imagine that this is my beloved country, Egypt.”

“This very sad massacre provoked anger all over Egypt which led to widespread demonstrations and violence in several provinces. These violent demonstrations led to more killing and injuries. It is said that more than 2,500 were injured in this last week alone. In addition to this, a government building was set on fire and unknown persons detonated the natural gas pipeline in Sinai for the 12th time in the last year,” the bishop wrote.

The government has formed a commission of inquiry to investigate the riot, but the bishop is not sanguine as to its outcome, noting that an investigation into anti-Christian riots last year in Maspero that led to a massacre have “revealed nothing and brought no one to justice.”

Dr. Anis reported that “some political parties and students from different universities are now calling for civil disobedience for three days starting on the 11th of February 2012. They are calling for the transfer of government from the Military Council to a civil one. We as a church have decided that we will keep our churches open for prayer during these days. We pray that it will pass without violence.”

Egypt was at a crossroads, he said, with the “major challenge” facing the country being the “writing of the new constitution.”

“Who will be involved in this? Is it a group of like minded people or a group of Egyptians representing the entire spectrum of thoughts? Will it respect the United Nations declaration of Human Rights, or not?” he asked.

“Please join us in prayer for Egypt, for the stability of the country, for those who will write the new constitution, for safety and protection for all, and for the unity of the church,” Dr. Anis said.

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