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Entries in Camilia Shehata (2)


Egypt Special: What is the Significance of the Latest Christian Protests? (Iskander)

Fresh protests by Egypt’s largest Christian community the Copts indicate a new phase in communal tensions that have risen steadily throughout 2010. The latest demonstrations, which have so far led to one dead and many injured, began on 24 November in the Giza area of Cairo when permission to construct a church was refused.

Church building has remained a possible flashpoint between 1981 and last week, but Coptic reactions had been muted as Pope Shenouda pursued a pragmatic policy of cooperation with the State. Now a changed environment, beyond anger at inequalities over places of worship, is emerging: this is a political rivalry which is damaging the Church-State relationship and perhaps laying the ground for further communal violence.

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Middle East Feature: Behind Iraq's Church Attack, Religious Tensions in Egypt

These statements get inside the riddle of why an attack on a church in Iraq was undertaken to put pressure on Christians in Egypt over the personal faith decisions of two Egyptian women. Different religious beliefs can exist side by side, but in an ideological context that ascribes religion a communal and political identity, belonging is defined by sect. The problem is an anthropological one more than a theological one.

This attack on a Church in Baghdad is not only a tragedy for Iraq; it represents an encroaching understanding of social and political relations that is the biggest challenge in the Middle East in securing peace and equality for all its peoples.

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