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 CNS Story:

EGYPT-HATESPEECH Aug-26-2013 (300 words) xxxi

Coptic Catholic patriarch says Egypt not controlling hate speech

By James Martone
Catholic News Service

CAIRO (CNS) -- Egypt's new interim government is doing nothing to prevent hate speech, which is inciting violence, said a prominent Egyptian Catholic leader.

"The state is paying no attention to sermons coming out of the mosques, whose ideas are inciting Muslims against Christians, who are the weakest link," said Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak.

In a statement Aug. 25, he said perpetrators involved in a wave of attacks on Christian institutions across the country since early July were not being apprehended, and those involved in the burning and destruction of churches should have been forced to repair them at their own expense and not at the cost of the state.

He said southern parts of the Minya governorate had seen some of the most severe anti-Christian violence so far, and that "people there are so extreme that they are threatening the Copts with expulsion from their homes."

Muslim-Christian tension in Egypt has long been a problem, but it reached unprecedented levels after the July 3 military ouster of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and worsened after security forces raided two Cairo camps of pro-Morsi demonstrators Aug. 14. Hundreds of people, most of them protesters, were killed that day.

About a week later, the Coptic Catholic Church reported that more than 70 churches, schools, community centers, homes and other properties belonging to Christians had been ransacked in the violence. The military and the new interim government have said they will repair the damage done to Christian institutions.

Coptic Christians make up as much as 15 percent of Egypt's population. Coptic Catholics account for as many as 300,000. The rest of Egypt's 82.5 million people are predominantly Sunni Muslims.

Christian leaders, including Patriarch Sedrak, have come out in support of military leaders, who they say are "fighting a war on terror" launched by people sympathetic to Morsi.

END


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