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Egyptian Christians Hope for Peaceful Resolution to Unrest

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Yorkers reacting to protests in Egypt New Yorkers reacting to protests in Egypt (Stephen Reader/WNYC)

Leaders of Egyptian Christians are among those in New York who have paid close attention to the protests in Egypt and have called on Coptic congregations to pray and fast for peace for the first three days of this week.

Father Armia Toufiles of St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Brooklyn said Monday that Copts have a variety of opinions about events in Egypt but, given past discrimination against Christians, there's a common concern about what happens next.

"We have a good foundation to have a good democracy that really respects the freedom of religion, the freedom of minorities. As Christians, we are minorities," he said. "Or are we going to end up with an even a more dictatorship of a system?"

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the population of Egypt, and many have migrated to the United States or other Western countries.

New York Muslims also had concerns about the protests in Egypt, which entered their seventh day Monday.

For Haroon Moghul, a PhD candidate at Columbia who heads the Maydan Institute, said many Muslims felt initial excitement about the uprising but it was later tempered by concerns about the future of Egypt.

"People are optimistic and surprised," he said, adding: "I think there's a very strong potential for a domino effect."

Parvez Sharma has been on a tweeting rampage these last few days. The New York-based filmmaker bristles at the label "Twitter Revolution" to describe what's happening there.

"You know, a lot of the real folks who have really pretty much not gone home for the last three or four nights do not have Twitter or Internet -- even on their smartphones -- working," he said.

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