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Martial law in Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2013 p 7. February 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East.
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President Muhammad Mursi of Egypt declared a “state of emergency” for Port Said, Ismailia and Suez this week, placing the cities and their surrounding provinces under martial law.

The imposition of a curfew and suspension of civil laws on 27 Jan 2013 comes in the wake of violent riots in Port Said and four days of demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahir Square, with protesters marking the second anniversary of the overthrow of the Mubarak regime with calls for the repeal of the country’s new Sharia-law based constitution.

“Egypt is passing through a difficult moment because of the anniversary of the 25 January 2011 Revolution and the hearing of the verdict of the Port Said Football Massacre,” the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt said. “Please pray for our beloved country Egypt as many have been injured or killed in the last days because of these demonstrations, and because the country is still in a time of transition.

Clashes between police and protesters over the weekend left at least 50 dead and hundreds injured Western news agencies have reported.  The political tensions in the capital were inflamed on Saturday after a court in Port Said sentenced to death 21 men for their part in a football riot.

On 1 Feb 2012 a riot erupted in the stands of Port Said Stadium at the close of an Egyptian premier league match between the Al-Masry and Al-Ahly soccer clubs. More than 1000 people were injured and 79 killed after Al-Masry fans stormed the pitch after their 3-1 victory over Al-Ahly. The Al-Masry fans attacked the opposing side’s players and fans.

The 26 Jan 2013 death sentences sparked riots in Port Said and escalated to street battles between the security services and demonstrators.  In a nationally televised address on Sunday President Mursi said the Port Said rioters were counter revolutionaries. He had imposed martial law to prevent further violence.

“There is no room for hesitation, so that everybody knows the institution of the state is capable of protecting the citizens,” he said. “If I see that the homeland and its children are in danger, I will be forced to do more than that. For the sake of Egypt, I will.”

Hopes for a democratic transformation of Egypt following the fall of the Mubarak regime have been dashed, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports with the  same “brutal tactics being employed against pro-democracy protestors by the previous military” being used by the current regime to “enforce the status quo.”

The Christian community has also fared badly from the “Arab Spring”.  Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom said: “The uprising in Tahrir Square on 25 Jan 2011 inspired the world as it saw Egyptians standing side-by-side in an effort to reclaim their national identity. There was hope for a new Egypt, one that could offer its people the freedom and responsibility of equal citizenship while no longer focusing on their religious or political stance.”

“It is unfortunate however, that two years down the line we have not seen sufficient signs of this transformation, and we still witness the marginalisation and alienation of many, Christians and Muslims alike, within Egyptian society, while repeatedly witnessing others committing crimes and not being brought to justice,” the bishop said.

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