A statement by the Egyptian Human Rights Council (EHRC) issued yesterday calls upon the government to hold accountable any official who proves to have been slack in their response to the recent attack on a church in Naga Hammadi, Qena.
The council demanded the implementation of anti-terrorism laws against the defendants, stressing that financial compensation for terror victims should be provided by the government and civil society instituitons. The demand aims to emphasize social unity and equality, the council says.
The council meeting held yesterday was chaired by Botros Ghali, the EHRC president, to discuss the report issued by a fact-finding mission sent by the council to Naga Hammadi.
The council’s statement called for legislative changes to severely penalize discrimination and bigotry. It also demanded a speedy adoption of the stalled bill for the building of places of worship.
The council said that the recent attack is especially dangerous because the perpetrators do not belong to any specific organization with a fixed set of beliefs, which calls into question their motivations and surrounding political atmosphere.
Al-Masry Al-Youm learnt that the 3-hour-meeting did not discuss the details of the assault, focusing instead on tackling issues related to citizenship and sectarian tensions, because of a delay by the fact-finding mission, which presented its recommendations to those convened.
Mustapha el-Fiqi, council member and head of the People’s Assembly’s Foreign Relations Committee, stressed that the solution does not lie in security apparatuses. He emphasized that political solutions are important. "President Mubarak has to interfere immediately," he said.
Ahmed Kamal Abul Magd, vice president of the council, said that people should neither exaggerate nor downplay sectarian incidents, calling for objectivity when handling such issues, as they represent a threat to national unity. He criticized reducing the incident to a mere security issue. "It is not only in the hands of security, civil society and political parties must have a stake [in the matter]," he maintained.
Hafez Abu Seida, another council member, said that the recent assault is part of a series of hate crimes committed by both Muslims and Christians.
On a separate note, the Ministry of Housing’s Ethics Committee denounced the recent attack in Naga Hammadi in a statement on Tuesday. The committee’s members include Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti, and Anba Bassanti, bishop of Helwan and Maasara. It considered the incident a setback for the values of national unity and tolerance, according to the statement.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.