CAIRO — Moderate Egyptians have spoken against the continuation of anti-Christian violence after a drive-by shooting targeted a wedding party at a Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo on Oct. 20.
Four people were killed in the attack.
Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi denounced the “callous and criminal” attack, pledging that it would not succeed in dividing the Christian and Muslim communities, the BBC reported.
The dead, all members of the same family, included two young girls.
They were mourned by several thousand Christians on Monday. Their funeral took place at the Church of the Virgin Mary in Cairo’s Warraq district, the same church where the attack took place the day before.
The attack wounded 17 people, including several Muslims. It is the first instance of anti-Christian violence by Islamist radicals in Egypt’s capital, according to The Washington Post.
Father Dawoud, a priest at the Church of the Virgin Mary, lamented the attack.
“What is happening is that all of Egypt is being targeted, not just the Christians,” he told Agence France Presse. “Enough! People are getting sick and tired of this.”
The grand imam of al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, condemned the attack as “contrary to both religion and morals,” the BBC reported. Islamist political parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, joined the condemnations.
Some Christian groups accused security forces of failing to protect churches.
Christians tended to oppose to the rule of former President Mohammed Morsi, who was elected with backing from the Muslim Brotherhood in June 2012. The Egyptian military removed Morsi from power in a July coup.
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need’s new report on Christian persecution, "Persecuted and Forgotten?," said that a rise in anti-Christian violence and intolerance was expected, given the political unrest in Egypt. However, the scale of attacks has exceeded the “bleakest predictions.”
Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s 90 million people. An estimated 200,000 Christians have left the country since February 2011.
Christians have faced violence and kidnapping, while dozens of churches have come under attack. Some churches have been burned and looted, with an increase in violence following July's coup.
While many billed the political upheavals in the Middle East as an “Arab Spring,” Aid to the Church in Need said such situations have often caused a “Christian winter” for Christian minorities in the Arabic world.
The influence of fundamentalist Islamist groups has “increased sharply” across the Middle East over the last three years, the charity said, adding that these groups are “possibly the greatest threat to religious freedom in the world today.”