Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak, speaking on behalf of Catholics in Egypt, has claimed the violence and unrest in his country are 'not a political struggle between different factions, but a war against terrorism.' During the violence, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like "prisoners of war" after torching a Franciscan school.
CNS reports that in a statement on Sunday the patriarch said the country's Catholics strongly support 'all State institutions, particularly the armed forces and the police for all their efforts in protecting our homeland.'
The violence in Egypt began at dawn on August 14 when the Egyptian military and police used bulldozers and tear gas to clear out camps of people protesting the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in early July. Morsi was supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, which wants Egypt to have an Islamic-inspired government.
In addition to the fighting at the camps, mobs began attacking Christian churches, schools and convents, claiming the Christians supported Morsi's ousting.
Yet there also were reports of Muslims forming cordons around Christian churches to protect them from the mobs and of Muslims offering shelter to their Christian neighbors.
Patriarch Sedrak's statement thanked 'our honorable Muslim compatriots who have stood by our side, as far as they could, in defending our churches and our institutions.'
Ucanews reports that after torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like 'prisoners of war' before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.
In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt's deposed president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority. The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.