JAFFA, Israel – A Christian leader in Egypt has accused the government led by Abdel Fattah al Sissi of hiding the real number of Christians in the country out of fear that the community will demand some of the senior posts in government.
Christian businessman and politician Najib Sweres claimed at a conference held in the U.S. that “The Egyptian state doesn’t want to reveal the real number of Copts out of fear that it will influence their demands to receive a slice of senior positions in government.”
At the conference, organized by the group “Coptic Solidarity” and held in the U.S. Capital Building in Washington under the banner ” The Future of Egypt’s Religious Minorities: Status of Copts after Two Revolutions,” Sweres said, “The Copts are still not properly represented in the government. The government has one Coptic minister, the Immigration Minister. This is a much different situation than what has existed in Egypt in different periods of history.”
According to Sweres, former President Anwar Sadat was responsible for opening the gates of extremism that continues to control Egypt. “We hope to see a Christian prime minister and hope to see more than one Coptic minister in the government. The Copts deserve this. They never harmed Egypt and never cause any problems.”
Sweres added that the Egyptians tend to blame Israel and the U.S. for every tragedy that befalls them as they hide from all responsibility themselves. “Was it not Egyptian citizens who stripped a Christian woman in the province of Minya?” asked Sweres, referring to a Muslim mob who attacked Christian residents of several delta villages several weeks ago, damaging property while beating many people and stripping a 70-year-old woman of her clothing before dragging her through the street.
Sweres’ comments sparked indignation in Egypt. Mohammed Shukri, a professor at Mansoura University north of Cairo, accused Sweres of attempting to divide Egyptian society. “I swear to Allah that you are Naguib, more extreme than Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. The difference between you is that he is obvious and you are crafty, said Shukri while adding that every word Sweres says carries much weight.
Several people responded to Sweres’ comments on Egyptian media, accusing him of extremism and sectarianism, though Christians in Egypt rejected the hate directed at Sweres and claimed that they are Egyptian through and through. “Our roots have been here for thousands of years,” wrote one social media user called Hana. “We should have rights exactly like you. Tell me how many Christian ministers there are, how many Security officials, how many governors, how many ministry directors, how many judges, how many prosecutors and many more ect.”
Christians were once the majority in Egypt until several centuries after the Arab conquest of the seventh century. Coptic Christians now make up between 5 and 10 percent of the population, according to published data.