At least 41 people died in a fire at a church in Cairo (Egypt) on Sunday, August 14, the Egyptian Coptic Church announced. on Facebook. Citing sources from the Ministry of Health, the report also mentioned 14 injuries. The fire, whose origin is yet to be clarified, broke out during a mass celebrated at the Abu Siffin church in the popular district of Impaba.
The prosecution launched an investigation and sent a team to the site to establish the cause of the fire, while the Ministry of Health indicated that it had dispatched dozens of ambulances. “I have mobilized all state services so that all measures are taken”President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi responded on his Facebook page. It is written that the latter spoke on the phone with Pope Tavatros II On the President’s website (in English), “to express his condolences”.
In the sprawling metropolis of Cairo, where millions of Egyptians live in informal settlements, accidental fires are not uncommon. More generally, Egypt, with dilapidated and poorly maintained infrastructure, continues to experience deadly fires in its various provinces.
The Coptic Orthodox Church made itself increasingly visible on the political scene, under the leadership of Tawadros IIAbdel Fattah al-Sissi. The latter is the Egypt’s first president attended the Coptic Christmas Mass every year, while his predecessors sent representatives.
Copts make up the largest Christian community in the Middle East, numbering 10 to 15 out of 103 million Egyptians. They exclude themselves from many positions, condemn laws that are too restrictive for church building, and are too liberal for mosques. Coptic human rights activist Patrick Zaki was recently jailed for 22 months for “spreading false information” in an article exposing Christian rights abuses in Egypt.
Copts have faced retaliation from Islamists, especially after the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013. Churches, schools and houses were burnt. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Egypt’s first president to attend the Coptic Christmas Mass every year, recently appointed a Coptic judge to head the Constitutional Court for the first time in history.
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