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Militant Muslim Salafists seize church land in Cairo in protest of new Copt leader

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 12th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Nearly 100 Muslim extremists - the hard-line Salafists in Egypt, wielding sticks and rods seized land near the South Mina Church in Shubra al-Kheima last week. The seizure of the land in the middle of Cairo was in protest of the election of the new Copt leader, Patriarch Tawadros II, who was selected in a ceremony last week.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Police reportedly stood idly as the Islamists occupied the parcel of land for more than a day. Signs were erected which read "Al-Rahma Mosque." Law enforcement later moved in after the Interior Ministry was notified. 

The demonstration deemed symbolic in nature was in reprisal against a statement by newly elected Patriarch Tawadros II against having Sharia law included in the new Egyptian constitution. Bishop Antonius Morcos, who is the spokesman for Patriarch Shenouda III's successor, heads the diocese.

"By seizing land that belongs to the Diocese of Shubra al-Kheima, Salafists are sending a warning to the new Coptic patriarch, Tawadros II," Rafic Greiche told AsiaNews. Greiche is the spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Church. He explained that the latest action by the Muslim extremists is intended to intimidate Shenouda III's successor.

Bishop Antonius Morcos, who leads the diocese, is the Coptic Church media point man as well as new patriarch's spokesman.

"Such an action is nothing new in Egypt, but this is the first time that extremists directly go after a high-profile Coptic prelate," Greiche says.

Patriarch Tawadros II criticized the Islamist stranglehold on the constituent assembly in a written statement. Tawadros says that the Coptic Orthodox Church would oppose any step taken by the constituent assembly to impose Islamic law on the country.

Groups of Christian and Muslim activists have since called on the authorities to arrest the Salafists who carried out the action.

Members of the Maspero Youth Movement and leaders of the Free Egyptian Party appealed to President Morsi to stop such acts, which they claim stir sectarian hatred.

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