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Egypt's President al-Sisi Apologizes to Coptic Christians, Vows to Restore Immediately Churches Destroyed by Muslim Brotherhood

( [email protected] ) Feb 12, 2016 01:56 PM EST
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi apologized to the Christian citizens of Egypt for not being able to restore immediately their churches and other religious structures which were destroyed in 2013. The president, who is also a Muslim, vowed to rebuild these structures within this year.
Bishop-General Macarius, a Coptic Orthodox leader, walks around a burnt and damaged church in Minya, about 245 km (152 miles) south of Cairo, in August 2013. Egypt's Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of its 85 million people, have coexisted with the majority Sunni Muslims for centuries. Reuters

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi apologized to the Christian citizens of Egypt for not being able to restore immediately their churches and other religious structures which were destroyed in 2013. The president, who is also a Muslim, vowed to rebuild these structures within this year.

In his statements, al-Sisi was referring to the events that took place in Egypt in 2013 after then-President Mohammed Morsi was ousted. Following his departure from office, the former president's followers, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ravaged the country and tore down churches belonging to Coptic Christians. Many people were also killed in Egypt during that time.

According to reports, over 60 Christian structures in Egypt were burned and destroyed during that time. Aside from churches, these include convents, schools and bookshops.

After al-Sisi took over as president, he promised the public that his administration will rebuild the destroyed structures. The Egyptian military has already started with the renovation projects but the president said that construction efforts will be intensified this year, Breitbart reported.

"We have taken too long to fix and renovate [churches] that were burned," he said. "This year everything will be fixed. Please accept our apologies for what happened...God willing...by next year there won't be a single church or house that is not restored."

The events that shook the country in 2013 has incited various negative notions regarding the relationship between Christians and Muslims. However, in an effort to establish their stance against extremism in Egypt, members from the two religious groups united with the latter offering aid and protection to the latter.

"Poor Muslim families brought blankets to the Christians who lost their homes, and together we formed a civil front - not Christians against Muslims - but civil society against extremism," Bishop Thomas of the Coptic Church according to Egyptian Streets.

Aside from this, images of Muslims working together with Christians circulated online. One of these depicted a group of Muslims and Christians holding hounds around a Coptic Church.

And, even when the conflicts have ended, Muslims still continue to help Christians in establishing their religious structures. Last year, Bishop Benyamin launched a fund to build a new church for the Virgin Mary near Cairo. After Islamic leaders heard about the initiative, many of them asked their followers to donate.

Tags : President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt Coptic Christians, church, Religious Structures