PACE Political Affairs Committee calls on Egyptian authorities to protect effectively the Coptic community

The Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting in Paris today, adopted the following statement:

“On the first day of 2011 a suicide bombing in a Coptic church in Alexandria killed 21 persons and wounded 79. The Parliamentary Assembly condemned unequivocally such violence. We all hoped that, after the success of the Egyptian revolution, such tragedies would not be repeated.

Unfortunately, on Sunday 9 October, a peaceful Coptic demonstration in Cairo degenerated for still unknown reasons and the ensuing clashes involving both the army and civilian thugs resulted in at least 25 persons, most of them Copts, being killed and more than 300 wounded. This violence, which was duly condemned by the President of the Assembly, is of course unacceptable and the first declarations of the Egyptian authorities and their subsequent lack of action fail to convince that they are genuinely committed to dealing effectively with recurrent inter-religious violence.

Egypt is due to start its first free and fair electoral process in two weeks time but no democratic elections can take place in a climate of religious hatred. 

We call on the Egyptian authorities and in particular on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to protect effectively the Coptic community, to investigate the events of 9 October 2011 and to bring to justice those responsible for violence so as to ensure a peaceful environment for the up-coming elections.”

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