Ahead of the Eastern Christmas celebrated on Jan. 7, Pope Shenouda
III, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church leader, met Jan. 5 with Anglican
Church leaders, according to news reports, to discuss how they could
begin “constructive dialogue” with the Islamists who have won a majority in
The meeting came as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party
and the Nour Party secured a clear win in the elections that began on Nov.
In the recent past, the two political parties, seen as fundamentalist, have been
associated with threats and attacks on Christians. But the Coptic and
Anglican leaders said they had received statements from the
parties’ members that affirmed Christians as equal citizens.
According to the Egypt Independent newspaper, the religious leaders said
in the view of the declarations, dialogue between Christians and moderate
Muslims would benefit the country. The two denominations also said they
would respect the people’s choice in Egypt’s first democratic election,
according to the newspaper.
With the two Islamic parties securing more that 65 per cent of the votes,
Hussein Mohammed, the Brotherhood party leader, said in a news release on
Dec. 31 that anyone attempting to cause division must be stopped.
“There are many things in common between Christians and Muslims in
history,the nation and the future that must be preserved,” he said. “Copts
(Christians) in Egypt are fully pledged Egyptians with the same rights as
Even with the statement, extremists have sent several threats to Christians
in Nag Hammadi, ahead of the Christmas celebrations, according to
Barnabas Fund, a UK-based charity. This was the scene of a massacre on the
same day in 2010, according to the group.
Threats of violence, church and house burnings, and murders of
Christians by Islamic extremists have increased in Egypt since a year ago,
when the “Arab Spring” popular uprising toppled the government of
longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.