Coptic Christians Protest Outside White House Against Violence in Egypt

c1.jpgHoisting homemade wooden crosses and photographs of bodies they said were crushed by tanks, hundreds of Coptic Christians rallied Wednesday in front of the White House to protest rising violence against minority Christians in Egypt and to demand that the Obama administration pressure Cairo to protect their rights.

The demonstrators, mostly Egyptian immigrants who traveled in buses from as far as New York and Chicago, included black-robed Coptic orthodox priests and families who had lost relatives in recent violence in Egypt, including the New Year’s Eve bombing of a church and a bloody clash Oct. 9 between protesters and army forces in Cairo that left 27 people dead.
“It is like a horrible nightmare. We watch on TV and see our people being run over by tanks,” said Mary Wassef, 66, who took a bus with friends from her church in northern New Jersey. “This is my church and my homeland. But now they want to force all Christians to convert or leave. If you hang a cross in your car, they pull you out and smash you to pieces.”
Christians in Egypt are a deeply rooted minority of about 10 million in a largely Muslim society of 81 million. Long-simmering tensions between the two groups have escalated since January, when a popular uprising in Cairo led to the fall of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak but left the country in a state of political turmoil.
Many Christians in the Egyptian American diaspora of about half a million, scattered across a dozen states, have expressed concern that radical Islamist groups are seeking to dominate the post-revolutionary scene and to turn Egypt into a Sunni theocracy. Some placards at the rally Wednesday warned of an “Islamic jihad” against Christians.
The demonstrators also expressed fear that the Egyptian army, a longtime bulwark of Mubarak’s power, is becoming a repressive force against Christians. Many held up bloody photos of crushed torsos and limbs, which they said had been deliberately run over by tanks Oct. 9. Hundreds chanted “shame on the army” and called for the ouster of its national commander, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi.
Source: Washington Post | Pamela Constable

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