Pope Tawadros II leads Coptic Christmas eve mass in Cairo, Egypt, January 6, 2016. REUTERS - Amr Abdallah Dalsh
CAIRO, May 30 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt’s president said on Monday that those responsible for a recent assault on “an Egyptian woman” will be punished, in reference to an elderly Christian who was stripped naked and paraded in an Egyptian village last week.
On May 20, around 300 Muslims attacked the woman and set fire to a number of Christians’ homes in a village in the Upper Egypt province of Minya, following rumours that her son had an affair with a Muslim woman, according to the local church and eyewitnesses.
“I did’t say a ‘so and so’ Egyptian woman because we are all the same and we have equal rights and duties,” Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a ceremony held to inaugurate a new project for slums’ development.
Describing the incident as unacceptable, Sisi said that wrongdoers will be held accountable and punished “no matter how many they are."
Coptic Orthodox Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt's population and are the Middle East's biggest Christian community.
Coptic Orthodox Christian Pope Tawadros II called for implementing the law and holding those responsible for it accountable before a customary reconciliation could be brokered in the village, according to a statement issued by the Cathedral on Sunday.
Local and international human rights organisations have repeatedly criticised purported discrimination against Egypt’s Christians, especially in rural areas where recurrent sectarian disputes have usually been calmed through customary reconciliation sessions organised by the authorities.
In a study released in July 2015, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said that by holding such traditional sessions, Egyptian authorities have “marginalized the rule of law” and encroached “on the sovereignty of the state, its judicial system and on the principles of citizenship and non-discrimination.”
The Egyptian interior ministry said last week that it arrested a number of suspects who are accused of involvement in Minya’s incident.