The Corner

With the Copts, Egypt’s Army Plays Good Cop and Bad Cop

Demanding an investigation, Egypt’s Coptic Christians are gathering in front of a Coptic hospital where Copts wounded by the military were taken on Monday. Over a dozen Copts were reportedly shot and beaten early Monday morning by the Egyptian army, some of whose members shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attacks, which were caught on videotape. This took place outside the state television station, where a nine-day protest by the Copts had just ended and some out of town demonstrators had remained overnight until the curfew expired.

The demonstration outside the TV station had been in protest of a church burning in Soul ten days ago, but ended Sunday evening after the army agreed to rebuild the razed church in its prior location. Our friend, the journalist Arne Fjelstad, yesterday sent the following confirmation of this bit of good news:

The army actually started rebuilding the church today. … Now it will be re-erected on the same spot that the church was. The army’s plan is to have the rebuilt church ready by Coptic Easter, late April. …The Islamic sheiks also said the Copts can return safely to the village.” Nile TV also reported on this development, which held promise for improved relations with the military for the Copts.

This marks a singular advance for Copts in post-Mubarak Egypt; in recent weeks Copts have experienced severe human-rights setbacks, including pogroms, military assaults against their monasteries, and a judicial acquittal in the case of a 2010 massacre inside one of their churches. In light of Monday’s attack, some Copts now express fear that the military has been infiltrated by radical Islamists. The United States provides over $1 billion a year in military aid to Egypt.

Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom.

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