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Egyptian Coptic politician says army responsible for deadly Maspero violence

Egyptian businessman and founder of the Free Egyptians Party, Naguib Sawiris, said extremist Islamist groups were being funded from abroad. (Al Arabiya)

Egyptian businessman and founder of the Free Egyptians Party, Naguib Sawiris, said extremist Islamist groups were being funded from abroad. (Al Arabiya)

By Al Arabiya
DUBAI

Egyptian businessman and founder of the Free Egyptians Party, Naguib Sawiris, is holding the ruling military council responsible for the deadly Maspero clashes, which he described as an unforgiveable crime.

In an interview with Al Arabiya TV’s “Point of Order” with Hasan Muawad, Sawiris, who is a Copt, rejected reports that blamed “infiltrators” for the deadly clashes between Coptic Christians and Egyptian security and army forces.

The Oct. 9 event resulted in the deaths of 28 people, most of them Coptic demonstrators. While some activists and bloggers at the scene of the clashes accused military forces of firing at peaceful Coptic protesters, Coptic church officials said “strangers” had incited the violence.

Sawiris, 57, blamed the supreme military council for the violence because, he said, it was partially responsible for safeguarding national security.

“The cause of sectarian problems is the lack of law enforcement to prosecute those responsible for attacking houses of worship,” He said referring for to the military rulers’ failure to bring those who attacked a Christian church in the south of the country.

Sawiris said he had opposed the Maspero protest, even though members of his party took part in it.

Following the violence, some Egyptian Copts who live abroad called for international protection for the Egyptian Christian minority. Sawiris told Al Arabiya that such calls only hurt the Coptic cause and that it is “un-Egyptian” to call for foreign interference in the country’s domestic affairs.

Sawiris rejected attempts to mix religion with politics in the post-revolutionary Egypt and said that if the Muslim Brotherhood, which uses the expression “Islam is the solution” as its slogan, wins the election, his party, however few seats it may win, would form a serious opposition.

He also accused the Brotherhood of obtaining dubious funds from unidentified foreign parties to run their election campaigns. He said liberal parties in Egypt are lacking in funding.

“The reality is that we have entered a race that is unfair. We are all parties that were born in the last six or eight months. We do not have extensive experience about the electoral process and we do not have financial resources,” Sawiris said.

“A large amount of funding is coming from abroad for the Muslims brotherhood movement and for the extremist Islamist powers in Egypt.”
He criticized what he said was an unclear political agenda of the Egyptian Islamists. “They refuse the model of the Tunisian Islamist Ennahda party and they reject the Turkish model. I don’t know what they want to do here in Egypt. If they win, they will likely turn the clock back.”

Sawiris was executive chairman of Wind Telecom and Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) before he stepped down and pursued politics. He launched Egypt’s first Mobile operator, Mobinil, in 1998.

(Written by Mustapha Ajbaili)


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