Armed men attacked Christian worshippers in Helwan, a Cairo suburb, on December 29. At least two gunmen attacked Coptic Christians leaving a worship service, killing ten and wounding eight. In addition, a gunman murdered two people at an appliance shop owned by a Copt in Helwan. It is believed the gunman is one the killers who later attacked Mar Mina parishioners.

The gunmen were not able to enter the Mar Mina church. Egyptian security forces arrived during the attack and killed one of them and took the other into custody.
 
It was reported that at least one of the attackers came from Etfeih, the town where Muslim fanatics, with the complicity of elements of Egypt's security apparatus, attacked a church last week after rumors circulated that Christians would planning to build a belltower. According to a release by Coptic Solidarity -- an advocacy group based in the U.S.: "This proves, once more, that terrorism against Copts in Egypt is homegrown and is often sanctioned by state organs.  
Egregious acts of violence against Copts receive the most media attention. Yet, it is the mundane daily discrimination, oppression and harassment, which has the most pernicious effect, and which receives virtually no media attention or condemnation resulting in a war of attrition on Copts. It is no less heinous in breaking Copts down into a state of submission, hopelessness, and drives the dramatic rise of Coptic emigration from their homeland."

Coptic Solidarity supports H. RES. 673, which was introduced by Rep. J. French Hill (R-Ark.). This Congressional resolution attacks on Egypt's Copts and seeks their equality. In a release, Coptic Solidarity declared: "The outright denial and bizarre accusations against Members of Congress and Coptic Solidarity in a plethora of Egyptian media reports demonstrates the need for continued attention and advocacy to achieve security and equality."

H.RES. 673, which is titled "Expressing concern over attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt," declares in part:

Whereas St. Mark brought Christianity to Egypt, where the Coptic Christians have been one of the indigenous people of Egypt for over 2,000 years;

Whereas there are over 10,000,000 Copts in Egypt, making Copts the largest Christian and largest non-Muslim community in the Middle East;

Whereas Copts and other Christians have been targets of societal aggression resulting in loss of life, property, and destruction of churches;

Whereas approximately 15 percent of Copts have emigrated from Egypt over the past few decades to escape discrimination;

Whereas in January 2015, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was the first Egyptian President to make an appearance at a Coptic Christian Christmas liturgy;

Whereas in August 2016, Egypt passed a new law with respect to church construction that has not lifted significant burdens on the ability to build a church;

Whereas Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a video calling Copts their “favorite prey” and warning of increased attacks;

Whereas violence against Coptic Christians, particularly in local villages is rarely punished, making Copts more susceptible to attacks...

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) acknowledges the central and historic importance of the United States-Egypt partnership in advancing the common interests of both countries;

(2) appreciates Egypt’s regional role as a partner in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism;

(3) recognizes the necessity for Egypt’s leaders to take steps toward education reform that prioritizes impartial instruction of all religions, and political reform that prioritizes human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law;

(4) urges the Government of Egypt to enact serious and legitimate reforms to ensure Coptic Christians are given the same rights and opportunities as all other Egyptian citizens; and

(5) urges the Government of Egypt to take additional steps to end the culture of impunity for attacks on Christians and to continue to undertake the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of individuals who carry out attacks on Copts and other Christians in Egypt.

 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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