July 21st, 2016 by Editor
When will the government adopt realistic solutions for the incidents of Sectarian violence?
Minya governorate had witnessed 4 sectarian violence incidents during the past 2 months which considered being an alarm bell to all the Egyptian institution concerning the need to deal with the successive crises by putting realistic solutions away from the temporary reconciliation meetings which lead to the occurrence of similar incidents later.
It’s obvious till now that the government didn’t identify a suitable solution for the case of Christian places for worship which considered being the main reason behind these incidents. Although the minster of parliamentary affairs previously has pointed to the “places of worship” act as one of the upcoming priorities for the Egyptian elected parliament but till now there are no steps have been taken to enact such draft-law to limit this kind of incidents.
Accordingly, the Egyptian Organization for human rights produced its report to clarify the reasons behind the escalation of these incidents- under the title of “when will the government issue realistic solutions for the incidents of Sectarian violence?”- And to propose a counter-strategy to such incidents to participate in the process of eliminating the factors causing those incidents:
Minya’s sectarian incidents:
- The first incident Occurred in Al Karm village 4 kilometers away from the intellectual city, Abu Korkas district, the incident started when a rumor that was spread all over the village about an emotional connection between a Christian male and a Muslim female. The Christian male whose name “Ashraf Abdo Atia” was threatened which drove him to leave the village. On Thursday 19/2016 his parents filled a report in Aby Kerkas police station on receiving threats.
On May 20/2016 a group of civilians carrying weapons invaded 7 of the Christians’ houses and set them on fire. Then the same group stripped Christian old lady and defamed her in the streets till the arrival of the police officers who arrested those assailants.
- On June 27/2016 a group of 15 civilians head to “Kom Al Loufy” police station in Samlot to fill a report against property violation committed by one of the villagers based on the rumors that was spread on turning this building to be church then the police station reacted positively and surrounded the building but number of 300 villagers set the fire on the building which led to the burning of the next 3 houses nearby belonging to the siblings of the building owner.
- On July 15/2016 Abu Yakoub Village witnessed violence between Christians and Muslims because of a rumor that one of the Christians whose name Ibrahim Khaleil Abd Al Malek -42 years old-turned his house to be church. Accordingly a group of 30 Muslim villagers and set this house to fire and the door was damaged then another nearby house was damaged and a motorcycle that was in front of the house belonging to Hana Yousef was burned then the police forces managed to control these violence practices and surround these properties using security cordon to prevent any engagements and arrested a lot of suspects. On July 20/2016 the general prosecution sentenced 13 defendants to 4 days in jail and preserved 3 other until the end of investigation and released the others including an arrested child and he was returned to his family.
- On July 12/2016 a clash between two group of Muslims and Christians in Tana Al Gabal Village in A l Minya based on a fight occurred between a child who was driving a donkey cart and other Christian children as they insulted the child and beat him so he told his family who came and the clash was occurred between the two groups with different religions and “Fam Mary Khalaf“ the priest’s son of Tahna Church was killed -27 years old- and “Kamel Hana” the father of the priest of Marmaria Al Agiby church was injured along with “Malak Aziz” and “Aza Gomaa” was injured then the security forces arrested the suspects and surrounded the place of the incident to prevent the occurrence of any other clashes.
The Crisis-Management strategies:
After these repeated incidents the government must enact the Act on equal places for worship instead of the hamionic line of dealing with ethnic minorities since 1856 which managed the ethnic minorities’ affairs in the Ottoman Empire including their religious affairs. Consequently this hamionic way included all the ethnic and religious minorities.
Furthermore, the Act on the equal places for worship in Egypt should contain a range of criteria for example Population density and geographical distribution and this act should be paralleled with the cancellation of the ten Administrative rules organizing the establishment f churches along with the cancellation of the presidential decree no. 13/1998 issued on 11/1/1998 concerning the authorization of the Mayors to organize the process of churches’ reconstruction and establishment.
Finally, the latest incidents should be taken seriously as the indicators of the sectarian tension are currently obvious accordingly the government should defuse this anger as soon as possible. Also the government should put applicable plans into action instead of passing the responsibility to the ministry of interior or to the clergy. The government along with the parliament should develop a clear enactment organizing these matters by law to prevent the occurrence of such incidents.
On the Other hand, the government should adopt new humanitarian principles and inculcate those principles such as tolerance, dialogue, counter extremism and terrorism and respecting the human rights – the right to life and the right to private security, the right to difference and respecting the divine religions, persuasions and beliefs, places of worship, freedom of thought and expression and respecting women rights and children rights and disabilities. Those principles should be considered as the core principles for any society and anyone violates those principles must be held accountable for any violations. By following those principles the society will proceed peacefully without any religious or ethnic or intellectual tension.
Therefore, to prevent the occurrence of such practices there should be a political willingness from the government along with ministry of waqfs, Al Azhar institution, Ministry of education and ministry of Mass communication and ministry of interior plus the church, civil society organizations to interact with each other and develop a quick short term plans plus a long term strategic plans.
1- Establishment of a committee on the religious affairs in the Egyptian Parliament which includes an official representatives of Media, the endowments ,church, the civil society organizations. The responsibilities of this committee are supporting citizenship affairs and enacting the needed laws to prevent the tension among people with different religions and any other clashes could occur in the future. Also the Committee shall be competent to enactment of laws organizing the process of establishment of the places of worship according to the population density and the geographical allocation along with the cancelation of the Mayors’ authorization to give their permission in case of building any place of worship that can’t be built without this permission which inconsistence with the Article no 64 and 53 of the Egyptian constitution that states the freedom of belief and the social equality regardless the race, gender and religion and this equality will be achieved except the freedom of the establishment and reconstructions of the worship places is guaranteed .
2- Organizing a public-governmental-parliamentary dialogue on the citizenship rights plus the coordination of a concerned seminars and conferences as a part of an integrated agenda that includes media coverage for those conferences and public meetings to guarantee wide range participation from all societal segments. These conferences should tackle the preparation of a new draft-laws and developing a new policies on organizing citizenship affairs regardless the belief or race or religion or the political opinions.
3- a renewal of the religious discourse by the Muslim and Christian clergy also is one of our main recommendation to Disseminate a culture of tolerance and dealing with the root causes of extremism. Moreover, holding continual public meetings between both sides to clarify the controversial issues and mistakes should be acknowledged and reflected upon.
4- The prohibition of the contempt of religions according to the Articles on Human rights such as the Freedom of belief and of thought guaranteed under the Egyptian constitution and the international covenants on human rights that was ratified by the Egyptian government and was considered as a part of the Egyptian domestic law under the Article 93/Egyptian constitution.
5- Modifying the schools’ curricula especially the ones tackle the religious rules and teachings to bring up the young generations from sound Islamic and Christian, psychological, and knowledge-based perspectives and enable them to accept differences and other opinions. Furthermore holding training and workshops to address the rights of citizenship for the young generations.
6- The Egyptian Media should assign enlightening programs on the human rights and the culture of Openness and accepting other points of view. Also an international code of ethics for information should be enacted to promote a culture of human rights and to clarify the difference between the freedom of expression and incitement to religious hatred.
 A presidential decree was issued by the ottoman sultan/ “Abd Al Maged” on 1856 to organizing the establishment of places of worship only by the permission of the sultan himself.
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