2011-03-09 15:10:20

Egypt's Christians determined in face of continued violence

At least thirteen people have been killed in violence between Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian population and majority Muslims that erupted in the wake of the burning of a church at the weekend.

140 people have been wounded, as well, as a result of the violence that broke out in Cairo on Tuesday night - the worst since President Hosni Mubarak was forced from office by a mass uprising characterised by solidarity between Christians and Muslims.

The Director of the Press office of the Catholic Church in Egypt, Fr. Rafik Greiche, told Vatican Radio that Egypt’s Christian minority is united and determined to continue to play an integral part in their country’s social and political life. “We know each other, we talk to each other, we try to support each other, especially on the human level.” Fr. Greiche also noted that the recent protests have reaffirmed the determination of Christians to be a presence in the country. “There are Christians living in Egypt,” he said.

The Catholic Church, which is only about 300 thousand-strong, compared to the 10 million Coptic Orthodox, plays an important social role, especially in education and healthcare, operating several medical clinics and more than 100 schools, many of which are in poor rural areas. “The Muslims – even the fundamentalists,” said Fr. Greiche, “respect very much the Catholic Church, for the services it [gives] to the Egyptian community.”

Listen to Chris Altieri’s interview with Fr. Greiche: RealAudioMP3

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