Egypt’s Burning Churches

September 9, 2022

Paul Marshall, Director of RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, wrote a piece for Providence in which he discusses the recent fires set in Coptic churches in Egypt, suggesting that they are a “new front” in the attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians. He writes:

On August 14, the Saint Macarius (Abu Seifein) Church in Giza, the western part of Cairo, was destroyed in a fire. Forty-one people died, many of them children. The official explanation is that the fire was caused by an electrical fault—which is plausible especially since the church occupied a decaying, ramshackle building. However, since then there has been a rash of church fires in Egypt, which suggests that this is a new front in the attacks on the Copts, Egypt’s Christians.

Because of the horrendous death toll, the fire drew national and international attention. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on his Facebook page that he had “mobilized all state services to ensure that all measures are taken” and he phoned Coptic Pope Tawadros II to give his condolences. 

Since Copts are often attacked by extremists, some have cast doubt on the official explanation and suspect arson, others saying that the emergency services took too long to arrive, something that the Egyptian government denies. But even if the government version is correct, the death toll reflects the ongoing discriminatory government restrictions that have plagued Egypt’s Christians for decades.

Read the full article: “Egypt’s Burning Churches.”