CAIRO: Prime Minister Essam Sharaf promised a Coptic delegation he met Sunday to reach solutions to pressing problems, mainly the sectarian clashes in Helwan in which a church was burnt last Friday.
Head of the delegation and Coptic Activist Micheal Mounir told Daily News Egypt that the delegation discussed, in a three-hour meeting at Sharaf’s home, “immediate demands including reclaiming the land of the burnt church and rebuilding it, and putting whoever responsible for burning the church on trial.”
The delegation also demanded compensation for the Copts whose homes and property were destroyed and looted, the release of Priest Metaeos Wahba who was detained due to charges of fabricating marriage contracts.
A fight between members of a Muslim family — over an alleged romantic relationship between the daughter of one them and a Coptic man — left two dead, including the woman’s father. After the funeral, residents of Etfeeh village marched to the Al-Shahedayn (Two Martyrs) Church to protest the alleged relationship. They broke into the church and set it ablaze.
Mounir said that Sharaf promised to report the demands to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to be answered as soon as cabinet was sworn in. The delegation asked Sharaf to hold another meeting to discuss all problems related to Copts and sectarian tension.
“We asked Sharaf to get the army to immediately interfere to reclaim the land of the church especially after extremists started to build a mosque in the land putting a sign on it called Al-Takwa Mosque.”
Coptic and Muslim protesters including activists continued their open strike in front of Maspero state television building against the tension in Helwan, demanding the protection of Copts and rebuilding the church.