Head of the Anglican Church in Cairo, Bishop Mouneer Anis, on the current situation in Egypt

 

The head of the Anglican Church in Cairo, Bishop Mouneer Anis, writes on the current situation in Egypt, expressing hope that Egypt will be restored as a civil, democratic, and modern country, and asking us to avoid rushing to judge the authorities in Egypt.  

 
The past week has been traumatic for Egyptians. We witnessed bloodshed on our streets, vandalism and the deliberate destruction of churches and government buildings in lawless acts of revenge by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and their supporters, angered that their protest camps had been dispersed and they had failed to have Mohamed Morsi reinstated as President. 
 
Morsi had been removed from power after about 30 million people turned out on the streets on 30 June calling for his removal. This was the overwhelming majority of Egyptians eligible to vote. The army urged Morsi to reshape his cabinet to be more representative of the nation and when he refused they had no option but to remove him. They were acting for the people who, in the absence of a parliament, had no other means. 
 
The Muslim Brotherhood immediately called for counter demonstrations across the country with two sit-ins in Cairo. The larger of these two - at Raba’a al Adawiya Square in Cairo - became a protest camp which paralyzed part of the city and affected the lives of thousands of innocent residents. After some six weeks, the authorities tried repeatedly to persuade the protesters to disperse peacefully, even offering the Brotherhood seats in the interim cabinet. They refused. Several western government representatives also tried to broker an agreement with the protesters, but they were adamant that they would not move, claiming this was jihad and they would fight. The situation could not continue and in the end, the police had to move in. The Brotherhood had chosen confrontation. 
 
Before the completion of dispersion of the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, the plan to attack churches and related institutions (schools, monasteries, Bible book shops) began. These attacks were not a surprise because some MB leaders and members of other Islamic groups had already threatened to escalate violence if the government tried to disperse the demonstrators.  One of them said, “We will burn Egypt.”  To date, more than 30 churches have been attacked. Another announced that the explosions in Sinai will stop at the moment when President Morsi returns to office” . 
 
Were the MB demonstrations peaceful?
 
 The Muslim Brotherhood has claimed that their protests were peaceful. Would the presence of guns, including automatic weapons, bombs, and bullets with those demonstrators, support the idea of being peaceful?  When they block the streets and control entrance and exit of the whole area of the city, can we call it peaceful?  Would burning churches, police stations, and government offices be signs of peaceful demonstrations?
 
On 14 August the violence that happened in many parts of Egypt revealed the real intent of these groups who carried out pre-planned terrorist attacks.  These violent attacks confirm that these groups were the same ones who burned the police stations in order to paralyze the police and who broke into the prisons during the early days of the January 25, 2011, Revolution.  Now we know the then unknown “third party” who was behind the acts of violence and  massacres.  
 
The Brotherhood leaders called for further country-wide demonstrations. On 16 August, they planned to march from various mosques after noon prayers and converge on Ramses Square in the city centre. One group marched on a flyer-over (15th of May Bridge) close to our cathedral and diocesan offices. I witnessed their progress. At the rear of the march, there was a group firing indiscriminately at houses on both sides of the road.  The people in the neighborhood fired back, and several people were killed from both sides.  It is obvious now that the people of Egypt are angry about this way of violence adopted by the MB and other extreme Islamic groups.  
 
We also watched on live TV how the policemen, with great patience and self-control, tried to evacuate el Fatah mosque near Ramses Square.  The MB gathered in this mosque and started to attack the police from the top of the minaret with machine guns.  Many angry Egyptian people gathered around the mosque to help and support the police.  The police exerted a lot of effort to protect the MB people who were in the mosque from the attacks of the people gathered outside.  The great crowds in Ramses Square were shouting, “The police and the people are one hand.”
 
Muslims denounce the burning of churches
 
I was touched by the report about a Muslim citizen, Mohammed el Dardiri, who tried to prevent the extremist groups from burning the Evangelical church at Bani Mazar in Minea.  As a result, the extremist groups shot him dead.  Many Muslims expressed their sadness about the burned churches, and announced that they would like to join with the Christians in repairing the damage.
 
The incomprehensible American and European response to these events
 
At this time, when the majority of the Egyptians stand by the police and the Army against terrorism and violence that happened after the dispersion of the MB demonstrators, the American administration, as well as the leaders of several European countries, criticized the Egyptian government for confronting these demonstrations, which they wrongly described as peaceful.  I wonder what would any developed country do if a group of people cut a piece of a city and controlled it the way the MB controlled two sections of Cairo?
 
I am surprised by the amazing statements of President Obama and other leaders which were not based on facts on the ground.  They give the impression that these leaders were not capable of reading the situation with unbiased eyes. Speaking about stopping aid to Egypt is very inappropriate and unwise.  In fact, these statements make the people of Egypt angry at the American and European governments. Some voices are even saying, “We don’t want aid.”  In addition to stirring up the anger of Egyptians, such statements strengthen the terrorist groups and encourage them to further the violence.
 
Egypt will recover
 
Egypt will recover because many are praying for Egypt and its people, and because the majority of the Egyptians stand firm alongside the police and the Army against violence, destruction, and terrorism.  Some friends of Egypt, such as Jordan, Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, who understand the real situation on the ground, support all the efforts of the government and the people to combat terrorism.
 
The 33 million Egyptians who went into the streets of Egypt to announce a vote of no confidence in Morsi’s rule are capable of rebuilding the country.  Going into the streets was the only way that the people were able to express their wishes, especially in the absence of the Egyptian parliament or the Shura Council (the Upper House).  The Army, in response to the desire of these millions and in consultation with the leaders of many different groups, removed the President and handed over the rule to the head of the Constitutional Court in order to form a temporary civil government.  The people of Egypt will strive to restore Egypt as a civil, democratic, and modern country.  
 
Last Word
 
I appeal to everyone to avoid rushing to judge the authorities in Egypt. The situation is more complicated that the Western media suggests and their reporting and presentation is often not impartial.