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Egyptian Copts Declare Creation of 'Christian Brotherhood'

Coptic activists in Egypt announced establishment of Christian Brotherhood to counter influence of Muslim Brotherhood.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 7/6/2012, 1:24 PM

Egyptian supporters of Muslim Brotherhood
Egyptian supporters of Muslim Brotherhood
Reuters

A group of Coptic activists in Egypt announced the establishment of the Christian Brotherhood to counter the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Arabiya news reported.

The idea was first initiated in 2005 by lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla, head of al-Kalema Center for Human Rights, and political analyst Michel Fahmi. It was then adopted by Amir Ayad, member of the Maspero Youths Union for Free Copts, the group established after clashes with military forces in front of the TV building in the Cairo district of Maspero left more than 20 Copts dead.

The Christian Brotherhood has branches in 16 governorates in Egypt as well as four branches outside Egypt, three in Europe and one in Australia.

“The idea started in 2005 with the rise of Islamist groups, but it had not been put to action since then,” Michel Fahmi told Al Arabiya in a phone interview.

Fahmi explained that the victory of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammad Mursi in the country’s presidential elections necessitated taking steps towards creating the new Brotherhood.

“It was then important to establish a body that can resist the Islamist tide,” he said.

“We created our group to create a balance in the Egyptian political scene.”

The new group, Fahmi pointed out, is not meant to compete with Muslims but with the rise of political Islam.

“Muslims are something and Islamists are something else and it is not true that we wanted to a Copt to take part in presidential elections,” he said.

“With Mohammed Mursi’s victory, we felt that Egypt is about to turn into a religious state so we decided to create the group as a means of peaceful resistance against Islamist powers,” said Amir Ayad who was quoted by an Egyptian daily.

Their efforts will be focused primarily on chronicling the violations and discriminatory acts committed against Coptic Christians across Egypt.

“We will then use all available legal channels to make sure the perpetrators of these actions do not get away with them,” said Ayad.

In the first response to be issued by an Islamist body, the Salafi Front welcomed the establishment of the Christian Brotherhood as the counterpart of the Muslim Brotherhood, noted Al-Arabiya.

“As long as the Christian Brotherhood will abide by the law and will work towards the welfare of Egypt, then there is no problem,” said Khaled Said, the front’s official spokesperson.