Churches in Egypt finally face repair, three years after attacks

Churches in Egypt are finally being repaired three years after they were damaged by Islamist groups in the aftermath of former president Morsi's eviction.

Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the current President of Egypt, has apologised to Christians over the delay to the renovations, which he has now said will be completed by the end of 2016, according to AINA.

Bishop-General Macarius, a Coptic Orthodox leader, walks around a burnt and damaged church in Minya, about 245 km (152 miles) south of Cairo, in August 2013. Egypt's Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of its 85 million people, have coexisted with the majority Sunni Muslims for centuries.Reuters

After pro-Morsi sit-ins were dispersed in August 2013, Coptic Christians in Egypt faced waves of attacks in the north of the country. Coptics, who make up around 10 per cent of the country's 90 million population, were blamed by Islamists for the protests that preceded president Morsi's ousting.

A number of Christians were killed and churches as well as Christian-owned property and schools were attacked.

Following the coup, al-Sisi promised the armed forces would pay for the repair work. Although action has been scant, the army has begun cooperating with Coptic leaders since al-Sisi reaffirmed his promise.

"I appreciate so much the president's promise to continue the restoration process this year," said Bishop Makarius of Minya in a phone call with Ahram Online.

He also thanked "the Armed Forces for their effort in renovating the churches to return them to the way they were before the attacks, or even better, and also the efforts of the Muslims who protected churches from attacks and provided refuge for their Christian neighbours to save their lives."

"14 August 2013 marks the worst attacks in the Church's modern history, as all Christian lives were threatened," Makarius added.

"They lost their properties in seconds, but thank God despite all the sectarian incidents and discrimination, Christianity in Egypt not only remains, but flourishes."

According to a report by the Coptic rights group Maspero Youth Union, around 65 churches were burnt and destroyed, some dating back to the fourth century.

The perpetrators were supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi was a supporter. Coptic-owned properties including six Christian schools, 60 houses, 85 shops, three hotels and 80 vehicles were also attacked.