Coptic official warns Islamists of oppressing citizens

Al-Masry Al-Youm

A Coptic official on Thursday warned the Islamists of oppressing the people should they come to power.

“Muslims and Christians suffer from the behavior of some extremists from both sides,” Deputy Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Abu Hatab said during a seminar organized by the Evangelical Communion in Alexandria to discuss religious co-existence.

“How can Islamist extremists forbid the greeting of Christians on their religious festivals?” Abu Hatab asked.

“We must not listen to the opinion of just one person. That person does not necessarily represent the whole of Islam.”

Abdel Moneim al-Shahat, a senior figure in the Salafi-oriented Nour Party and the official spokesperson for the Salafi movement in Alexandria, said in a television interview on Wednesday that giving festive greetings to Copts on their religious holidays is forbidden under Islam.

Shahat is known for making controversial statements based on his extreme Salafi views, and some blame him for causing his party to lose seats during recent parliamentary elections.

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafi-oriented Nour Party have won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections that began on 28 November and ended Wednesday. The victories have raised fears among liberals, secular forces and Copts.