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HRW: Egypt ‘apathetic’ towards fleeing Christians

March 15, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Christians gather to mourn the victims of a Coptic Church bombing in December 2016

Since late February, hundreds of Christians have fled the northern Sinai Peninsula in fear of their lives after seven Christians were murdered by suspected Daesh militants in the town of Arish.

Twenty-nine members of Egypt’s Christian community were killed in Cairo in early December after a bomb hit a church in the capital; Christians have also been targeted in other northern Sinai towns such as Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayd.

According to Human Rights Watch several of the families said they fled Arish after the “apathetic” response they received from Egyptian security officials.

Calls for protection

The families also said that they hope to return home but are doubtful they will be able to. They are currently living with local families in Ismailia, west of the Suez Canal, where they fled in late February. The Egyptian government promised to make five apartment buildings available to them but has so far not fulfilled this promise.

Read: HRW says Egypt stifling right to strike

The government’s apathetic response is part of a continued pattern of indifference authorities have shown to the persecution of the Christian community in Egypt, which culminated shortly after the Maspero massacre in 2011 when Pope Tawadros showed little interest in holding the people who perpetrated the massacre to account.

“The message from the displaced families is that Egyptian authorities need to respond to their calls for protection and provide people with adequate shelter,” said Joe Stork, deputy director for Middle East and North Africa Division.