Egyptian churches reject call for massive anti-Israel Protest

Emad Khalil

Egyptian churches announced on Thursday their rejection of a protest scheduled for next Friday to demand the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Cairo.

A number of activists who have been staging a sit-in in front of the Israeli Embassy called Tuesday for a million-strong demonstration to take place this Friday to demand the removal of the Israeli ambassador, a move that would likely further strain relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv.

On 18 August, six Egyptian military and security personnel were killed by Israeli gunfire at the border between Egypt and Israel.

The Coptic Church called for political groups and coalitions to leave the issue to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the government. It urged youths to cooperate with the military junta so that they do not become separated from their political leaders, as was the case under the former regime.

The Catholic Church spokesman Rafiq Greish said that youth should not interfere in what should be done with the Israeli ambassador and should leave the SCAF to deal with the matter.

Greish ruled out any decision by the church to ban the youth from participating in Friday’s protest. The Catholic Church believes in the freedom of speech and has never directed its followers to take a certain political action, Greish said.

The Maspiro Youth Union said it would hold a protest in Tahrir Square, not in front of the Israeli Embassy or the house of the Israeli ambassador, as some have called for. It said, in a statement, it will call for a review of the Camp David Accords, particularly its provisions that determine the number of Egyptian military troops allowed in Sinai. The union stressed, however, that determining the status of diplomatic relations should be left to the Foreign Ministry.

Haitham Kameel, a member of Copts Without Restrictions, said that the group would also participate in the Israeli Embassy protest along with other political forces.

Translated from the Arabic Edition