Elad Benari, Canada
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi meets with Coptic families who fled from the town of Rafiah after receiving death threats.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi visited the Sinai Peninsula on Friday to meet with and reassure Coptic families who fled from the town of Rafiah after receiving death threats, his Facebook page said, according to AFP.
This “will not happen again,” Morsi told a group of local Bedouin tribal chiefs and other residents of the town of El-Arish, including Coptic Christian families, the official news agency MENA and participants said.
“Your security is our security,” he said.
“What happened is an individual case which represents neither Egypt nor its children, Muslim or Christian. It’s crime for which the perpetrators must be held responsible,” MENA quoted Morsi as saying.
According to residents and officials in Rafiah, on the border with Gaza, Christian families fled to El-Arish about 19 miles away after having received death threats from Islamists.
Leaflets were circulated in Rafiah demanding that the Coptic community leave or be killed, residents said. A shop owned by a Coptic family was subsequently machine-gunned.
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil denied the families had been “forced” to leave, but the National Council for Human Rights said the “threats” necessitated their departure.
Stringent security measures were taken for Morsi’s visit, AFP reported, with hundreds of soldiers deployed at access points to the city, and armored personnel carriers stationed on streets, according to a security source.
The local Al-Masri Al-Youm newspaper said the president was initially going to visit Rafiah as well, but “for security reasons” decided to stay in El-Arish.
Egypt’s Christians, who make up six to 10 percent of the country’s population of 82 million, have regularly complained of discrimination and marginalization.
There have been several attacks, some of them lethal, against Copts in Egypt. Last month, Muslims attacked a Coptic church in a village near Cairo. At least 16 people were wounded in the melee, among them 10 police officers.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)