Egypt: Coptic Christians charged with terrorism

Monday, March 7, 2022

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Nine Coptic Christians in Egypt are in prison, charged with committing an act of terrorism after participating in a peaceful protest requesting permission to rebuild their destroyed church in the Minya Governorate, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports. Egypt ranks 20 on the US Open Doors Watch List 2022 of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.

Under the 2016 Egyptian Law 80/2016, an application must be made to the pertinent government authorities for approval and a permit to construct a church building, ICC reports. However, in its 2020 Annual Report, the US Commission on Religious Freedom (USCIRF) noted that only around 200 approvals had been granted since the law took effect.

Moreover, the Report said: “The governing authorities have issued few to no permits for new churches in previously inhabited communities while shuttering around 25 churches since the passage of the law, including several in 2019.”

The nine Christians were arrested in Ezbet Faragallah village in January, after staging a peaceful demonstration for permission to rebuild St. Joseph and Abu Sefein Church which was destroyed in a fire in July 2016, ICC reports. The Christians were sent for interrogation at the Supreme State Security Prosecution on February 2 and 3, 2022, and eventually charged the Christians with participating in an assembly that endangers public peace, and committing a terrorist act with the aim of disturbing public security.

The Christians remain in detention. “Authorities decided to imprison the defendants for 15 days pending investigations, and then renewed the detention decision on February 12, 2022, without presenting them in person to hear their statements or in the presence of their lawyers,” ICC said.