Bishop condemns military violence against protesters in Egypt

A senior Catholic bishop in Egypt has condemned the military crackdown on protests that have left at least 30 people dead.

Hundreds more have been injured in protests over delays to the transfer of power from the military council to civilian rule.

Violence broke out when the military attempted to break up a mass demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the weekend.

Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina, the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Giza, told Aid to the Church in Need, “The authorities have no right to shoot peaceful people.

“Using violence against peaceful people is not acceptable. The authorities must explain their actions.

“The army has not learned the lesson that if you shoot people they will react. The more you attack them, the more they will react.”

Although parliamentary elections get underway next week, protesters fear that the military council will not relinquish power.

After initially stating that presidential elections would be held in late 2012 or 2013, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi backed down yesterday after the last few days of clashes, declaring that they would now be held by July 2012.

Despite the concession, protesters are continuing to gather in Tahrir Square where they are demanding that the field marshal step down.

Bishop Mina defended the right of the protesters to demonstrate.

“People have a right to speak out in this way. The only way they can make their point is by demonstrating.

“The rights of the people need to be defended. By making demonstrations, they are not making a political statement, they are calling for justice.”

He added: “The young people, who began the revolution [that led to Mubarak’s downfall], no longer trust people in authority especially the military. They were full of hope when the revolution began but now no longer.”