“The state is paying no attention to sermons coming out of the mosques, which are inciting Muslims against Christians,” said Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak.
In a statement he said perpetrators involved in a wave of attacks on Christian institutions across the country since early July were not being apprehended, and those involved in the burning and destruction of churches should have been forced to repair them at their own expense and not at the cost of the state.
He said southern parts of the Minya governorate had seen some of the most severe anti-Christian violence so far, and that “people there are so extreme that they are threatening the Copts with expulsion from their homes”.
Muslim-Christian tension in Egypt has long been a problem, but it reached unprecedented levels after the July 3 military ousting of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and worsened after security forces raided two Cairo camps of pro-Morsi demonstrators on August 14. Hundreds of people, most of them protesters, were killed that day.
About a week later, the Coptic Catholic Church reported that more than 70 churches, schools, community centres, homes and other properties belonging to Christians had been ransacked in the violence. The military and the new interim government have said they will repair the damage done to Christian institutions.
Coptic Christians make up as much as 15 percent of Egypt’s population. Coptic Catholics account for as many as 300,000. The rest of Egypt’s 82.5 million people are predominantly Sunni Muslims.
Christian leaders, including Patriarch Sedrak, have come out in support of military leaders, who they say are “fighting a war on terror” launched by people sympathetic to Morsi.