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Catholic church attacked in Cairo

Catholic World News - May 10, 2011

Members of the Islamic Salafi movement have attacked a Catholic church in Imbaba, a suburb of Cairo, according to an Italian missionary.

“A group of Salafis came shooting in the church and killed the father of one of our postulants, who is in Uganda,” said Father Luciano Verdoscia, a Comboni missionary. “The man was hit by several shots to the chest.”

The priest told the Fides news agency:

The excuse used by Salafis to commit these crimes is the story of Kamilia, the wife of a [Coptic] Orthodox priest who wanted to divorce her husband. Since the [Coptic] Orthodox Church is very strict in matters of divorce, the woman had converted to Islam to escape from her husband. The Salafis claim that the woman is held prisoner and was brought back to the Coptic faith against her will …

The neighborhood of Imbaba is a poor area [where] fanaticism flourishes, where poverty and ignorance reign. The Salafis are a group that is not the majority, but make themselves heard, even with violent actions. According to some commentators, these groups are controlled by the old regime, who want to make others believe: “Look what is happening without us. A strong government is needed to rule with an iron hand.”

“It is Islam that must evolve,” Father Verdoscia added. “I hope that moderate Muslims can go beyond certain readings of Islam. These killings happen because in Islam when a group of people are expressed as kuffar [infidels]; they can be killed and deprived of all their property.”

Only 0.3% of Egypt's 79.1 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics.

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