One Egyptian Christian was killed and hundreds more were arrested this week while protesting a government ban on their completing the construction of a new church near the famed pyramids. Naturally, government officials in Cairo blamed Israel for the entire affair.
The trouble started on Wednesday, when Egyptian police violently confronted about 200 Coptic Christian demonstrators outside an unfinished church building in Giza. The police shot and killed one protestors and wounded dozens of others. Another two dozen protestors were arrested.
During the clash, the Christians hurled stones at police, wounding 12 officers.
A day later, the demonstration intensified, and police arrested 156 Christians. The Christians were charged with trying to murder the local police chief, apparently by throwing stones in the earlier protest. They were denied legal representation during their questioning, according to local media reports.
The building at the center of the confrontation is already partially completed. But after discovering that the Christians intended to use it as a church, Egyptian police banned further construction work at the site. Christians in Egypt have long complained that while it is very easy for Muslims to obtain the needed permits to build a mosque, Christians must secure special presidential approval to build a church.
But Mustafa El-Feki, head of Egypt’s parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, said the church is just an excuse, and that Israel is behind all the recent Muslim-Christian tension in Egypt.
“It is almost certain that the Mossad is involved in these events. The State is dealing with dangerous events that could not have succeeded without external intervention with Israel at its head,” claimed El-Feki at a university conference on Thursday.
In September, a prominent Egyptian cleric declared on the pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera that Egyptian Christians were working with Israel to undermine the country’s Muslim majority. Western officials fear these accusations are tied to upcoming parliamentary elections as a means of diverting focus from the government’s failures.
Despite the dangerous situation for Egypt’s 10 million Christians, these events have garnered very little coverage from an international media still far too obsessed with reporting on the construction of a few Jewish apartments that upset the Palestinian Arabs.