Egypt: Some Copts return to Rafah following threats
"The state has abandoned us," says teacher
(ANSAmed) - Rome, October 1 - The last group of Christian families living in Rafah, north Sinai have abandoned their homes in the wake of threats and attacks by Islamic militants, and their case has become a political one. But some families are now back. Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi gave his assurance that the safety of both Christians and Muslims is paramount in the area, which has increasingly become a 'no man's land'.Of the nine Copt families who recently found refuge in the region's capital el-Arish, only a few have returned. "We are going back, but the State has abandoned us. I was at Rafah but I left because I was scared for my family's wellbeing. Our house could have been blown up at any moment", teacher Ehad Louis told ANSA, mentioning the case of shopkeeper Abu George: a rain of bullets against his shop sparked the last flight of Copts from Rafah. "He was forced to close is shop. The situation in Rafah is very difficult - there are threats day and night. Our children can't go to school during the week", continued Louis. He underlined that that before the revolution "the situation was good and relations between Christians and Muslims were better." "All the Christians have left the city and are really angry to have been abandoned by the State", he continued.
"We told security forces about the threats and intimidation but nobody was interested. When I brought the question to the governor we were told that we would be moved to el Arish".
"We have come back and I hope that my children will be able to go to school. The situation has changed as a result of the effort of tribal leaders and the local population who say they will protect us. Safety is a deep seated sentiment; not an armored car patrolling the streets", added Louis. But his predictions may prove optimistic. Of the three families who have already returned, one has already changed its mind. The other six families, who are housed in a church in el-Arish refuse to come back until the governor of North Sinai meets with them, church sources told ANSA. Bishop Kozman of North Sinai said that the only church in existence in Rafah has been repaired after it was torched in the last few days. At a meeting with the opposition party in Dostour, the religious leader blamed a lack of police presence in Rafah which he said encouraged militants to launch attacks against the shop and distribute flyers threatening to Copts. A Copts solidarity initiative is due to take place today in el-Arish. (ANSAMed)