Cairo, Egypt - The rise of Islamic parties in the Egyptian Revolution, and the continued enforcement of the Sharia in the villages outside Cairo are frightening Christians, who are attempting to emigrate to countries with greater religious freedom. According to the Egyptian Federation for Human Rights, more than 70 people a week are asking for information on how to leave the country. The instability of the countries of North Africa and Middle East concerns the Holy See. Today , the third meeting of the Special Council for the Middle East, the secretary general of the synod of bishops stressed that "the precarious situation due to socio-political movements concern the churches who share the joys and concerns of citizens, forced in many cases to migrate because of violence, lack of employment, restriction of religious freedom, the reduced space of democracy”.
Fr. Rafic Greich, chief press officer of the Catholic Church and spokesman for the seven Egyptian Catholic denominations, told AsiaNews that the current situation in Egypt is deadlocked and is very critical especially for the Christian communities.
"In this country - he says - many extremist groups have emerged like the Muslim Brotherhood, but more radical groups such as the 'Islamic Jihad Movement and the Salafis are also gaining ground." He stresses the danger of these groups despite the small number of followers, who can make their voices heard. Organized according to military logic, the main purpose of Salafists and jihadists is the spread of Sharia law across the country and use Islam as an ideology. "Often - Fr. Greich emphasizes - the followers of these movements apply sharia law on their own and today the police reported the attempted stoning of a woman. "
"Many Christians - he says - are leaving because they do not know what will happen in the future and prefer to emigrate." According to Father Greich the presence of the military government is not reassuring, although they have maintained the role of guarantors of security and public order since the beginning of the Jasmine Revolution. "Although the army says it does not want to endorse anyone, we all know that the Egyptian military has a tendency to promote Islam." "In the 1952 revolution, many of the soldiers who took part in the coup were close to the Muslim Brotherhood and many officers still use religion to control subordinates."
However, according to the priest, there are many young people who look at the situation from a positive point of view and after the fall of Mubarak many Christians, Catholics and Orthodox, have joined the democratic parties and this trend is especially dividing the Coptic Orthodox Church. "The Coptic Orthodox - he explains - are very weak at this time. Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church is very old and sick, but he is very autocratic, and any decision regarding the community must have his permission. He strongly condemned young people who participated in the Jasmine Revolution, giving credit to President Mubarak to the last. " Fr. Greich points out that this has created a deep rift within the community that led young people to no longer pay attention to elderly priests. (S.C.)