Egyptian Group Attacks Copts as Anti-Islamic

Al-Azhar Observatory, an organization created by the Cairo University of Al Azhar in 2014 to monitor and denounce the spread of radical and extremist doctrines through the media, is accusing the Coptic Church of being responsible for the al-Hayat satellite channel, which often broadcasts programs critical of the Islamic religion, Agenzia Fides reported.

Al-Azhar created the online observatory as a reply to terrorists’ allegations in different languages in order to fight extremism and terrorism in the wake of accusations of the Suni institution’s negligence in countering extremism. The observatory was also Al-Azhar’s response to calls for the renewal of religious discourse in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world.

So now the Observatory has issued its report that the extremists in Egypt are sheltered by the Coptic Church, whose television programs “increase hatred and resentment, threaten the security of society and spread extremist ideas.”

Father Boulos Halim, spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, rejected the allegations, pointing out in a television interview that the Coptic Church has no connection with the properties of al-Hayat channel, does not intervene in any way in its programming, and disapproves of all programs that foment sectarianism and violence. Coptic commentator Isaac Ibrahim criticized the provocative statement of al-Azhar Observatory, especially for choosing to spread accusations against the Coptic Church during the Christmas season.

There has been much discussion in Egypt recently of the need for a renewal of religious discourse in the intellectual and religious arenas, in reaction to the rise of extremist and jihadist groups, and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has made repeated calls for the renewal of religious discourse in Egypt.

The Copts are an ethno-religious group situated in North Africa and the Middle East, mainly in the area of modern Egypt, where they are the largest Christian denomination. There are between 10 and 16 million Copts in Egypt.