CAIRO: An American delegation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom is currently in Egypt, with plans to discuss the recent Nagaa Hammadi shootings, though the visit had been scheduled before the attack took place.
Meanwhile Egypt insisted that the Nagaa Hammadi killings – in which six Copts and a Muslim guard were killed in a drive-by shooting outside a church on the Coptic Christmas Eve – was a purely internal matter and criticized certain members of the European Parliament for attempting to push a resolution on the incident.
A statement by the Foreign Ministry Friday said, “It is an internal Egyptian matter that no foreign party is allowed to consider.
“Many moderate European Parliament members praised, during the EU Parliament session on January 21, 2010 in Strasburg, the decisive and rapid procedures taken by the Egyptian authorities to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice, the statement continued.
“Nevertheless, a group of right-wing MEPs take advantage of such incidents to increase dissent and radicalism by including it in the resolution adopted, it added.
The US embassy in Cairo said that the visit of the American delegation currently in Egypt was not directly related to the events of Nagaa Hammadi, but rather it was a fact-finding mission ahead of the release of the commission’s annual report.
Margaret White, US embassy spokesperson, said in a statement sent to Daily News Egypt Sunday, “Three commissioners from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent body whose members are appointed by the US Congress and President, are currently visiting Egypt. They are here on a routine fact-finding visit in advance of their annual report.
“While in Egypt, they will meet with government officials, religious leaders, and civil society. This trip has been planned for some time and is not related to any specific event, White added.
The shootings have triggered a number of protests, both in Egypt and abroad, the latest being in London on Saturday. Around 1,500 people, mainly Egyptian Copts residing in Britain, gathered in front of the Prime Minister’s office in 10 Downing Street to protest the shootings.
They submitted a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s office asking Britain to put pressure on the Egyptian government to better protect Coptic Christians in the country and prevent further discrimination against them.
The Jan. 6 shootings outside a church in Nagaa Hammadi as Coptic Christians exited Mass left seven dead and nine injured.
The three suspects, Qershi Aboul Hagag, Mohamed Ahmad Hassan El-Kamuni and Hindawi Mohamed Sayed, were captured the following day after being surrounded by police forces at a sugar cane farm, after which they turned themselves in.
The Public Prosecutor Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud referred the three suspects to the Emergency State Security Court in Qena for trial.