Minister of Endowments Mokhtar Gomaa - File
CAIRO – 27 January 2018: Egypt’s Minister of Endowments Mokhtar Gomaa said that the protection of churches is as legitimate as defending mosques, stressing that those who died in the defense of a church are martyrs.
Gomaa added that whoever risks the national unity or violates traditions is not welcomed in the mosques and has no room for public speaking or religious call.
A state of controversy has prevailed among Egyptians recently as Sheikh Abdullah Roshdi was accused of speaking about Christians inappropriately in a TV show where he said that it is prohibited for Muslims to congratulate non-Muslims on their religious occasions that express what Islam considers to be acts of unbelief.
Gomaa denounced Roshdi’s statement that incites violence against Christians, asserting that Roshdi was prevented from giving public speeches or interviews, and was tasked with an administrative researching position in the Ministry of Endowments, rather than preaching.
Dozens of Christians have been killed in terrorist attacks on churches and congregations in recent years. Police have deployed thousands of security personnel to protect churches, parks and other vital public institutions during the Christmas and feasts time.
In April 2017, on Palm Sunday, at least 45 people died in twin attacks on Coptic churches in Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta. At least 29 Copts were killed on a bus en route to a monastery in central Egypt in May, and a Coptic Orthodox priest was stabbed to death in Cairo in October.
The attacks have been blamed on, and in many cases claimed by, Islamists affiliated with the Islamic state (IS) terrorist group.