13.10. 2011 On the massacre of Copts in Egypt

Christian Copts were routinely discriminated already under the Mubarak regime, with their churches and homes attacked and burnt by Muslim extremists.  Last Sunday, October 9, dozens of Copts were killed as more than 100,000 of them, supported by groups of Moslem co-citizens, marched peacefully through the streets of Cairo, protesting against new attacks which targeted their churches.

Appalling is the fact that this happened under the new interim Government, only a month before elections which are hoped will be free and fair.  Last Sunday's massacre is bound to cast serious doubts on the democratic perspectives that the Egyptian revolution has generated.


The Copts are not strangers in Egypt.  On the contrary, they embody a significant minority of ca 10% of the population, representing the oldest inhabitants and traditions of this ancient country.


Earlier this year, the Copts participated actively and in the spirit of solidarity together with other Egyptian co-citizens in massive protest actions that put an end to the previous authoritarian regime.  Egyptian revolution is owned by all its citizens, including Copts.


The apparent cooperation between Egyptian military and Muslim extremists which resulted in shooting at peaceful demonstrators and crushing them under armoured vehicles is revealing some ominous features of the new regime. 


The European External Action Service has to address these events with utmost seriousness. It is the role of the European Union to stress that a basic criterion for a truly free society is the establishment of a secular democracy that will not prefer any religion and will guarantee equal opportunities for all, including the right freely to change one's religion. So far this has not been the case in any Islam-dominated country, including countries which have liberated themselves from authoritarian regimes.


We should clearly indicate that founding the new constitutions of the revolutionary Arab countries on Sharia law is bound to legalize continuous discrimination and persecution of minorities. 

The EU should not close its eyes before these developments, if it hopes to see democracy and human rights finally established there.  This will not happen if the constitutional start of the new regimes will be fundamentally tilted in favour of one dominating religion.


Tunne Kelam, MEP