CAIRO: Thousands of Copts continued their open protest on Tuesday in front of the TV building in Maspero for the fourth day, following sectarian tension in Etfeeh village where a church was burnt down.
Copts escalated their protests by blocking El-Mehwar road and Sixth of October Bridge late on Monday and put huge stones in the middle of the road obstructing the flow of traffic. Army officers eventually convinced protesters to clear the road.
Lawyer of the Coptic Church Ramsis El-Naggar told Daily News Egypt that engineers from Helwan Governorate, under the protection of the armed forces, visited the site of the burnt church as a first step towards rebuilding it.
“The Armed Forces will build the church in the same spot, and will bring back Copts who fled the village,” said El-Naggar. “But the protest will continue until the rebuilding actually begins.”
El-Naggar said that he has also requested from the Minister of Justice amnesty for Priest Metaeos Wahba who has been imprisoned for 30 months after being convicted of forging marriage contracts. The Prosecutor General has already ordered his release.
Thousands of protesters in front of the Maspero building said that they will continue holding an open protest and issued a statement carrying 10 demands.
These included rebuilding the church and the service compound adjacent to it on the same site, forming a committee to investigate the crime, and guaranteeing the protection of the village’s Coptic residents as they return to their homes.
Protesting Copts also demanded compensation for the village’s Copts, questioning army officials who were responsible for protecting the church, and citizenship rights that guarantees of freedom of religion.
The January 25 Revolution Youth Coalition issued a statement supporting the rights of Copts.
“The Youth Coalition expresses its deepest concern towards the sectarian tensions that resulted in burning Etfeeh village church, which was handled wisely by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that decided to rebuild the church,” the statement read.
The statement mentioned that the army council derives its legitimacy from the people, and declared its commitment to all international agreements including the ones pertaining to human rights.