The fire, whose origin is not yet clear, is still raging, according to officials, at the Abu Siffin Church in the popular district of Imbaba, named after St. Mercury of Caesarea, the largest Christian community revered by the Copts. With 10 to 15 of the 103 million Egyptians in the Middle East. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reacted immediately on his Facebook page, saying, “I have mobilized all state services to ensure that all measures are taken.”
In March 2021, at least 20 people were killed when a fire broke out at a garment factory in the eastern suburbs of Cairo. In 2020, two fires in hospitals claimed the lives of fourteen patients with COVID-19. Although many, the Copts distance themselves from many positions and consider laws too restrictive for the construction of churches and too liberal for mosques. The topic is sensitive and Coptic human rights activist Patrick Zaki recently spent 22 months in custody for “spreading misinformation” over an article exposing Christian rights violations in Egypt.
Copts have faced retaliation from Islamists, especially after Mr Sisi overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Morsi by setting churches, schools and homes on fire in 2013. Mr Sisi, Egypt’s first president who attends the Coptic Christmas Mass every year, has recently been appointed a Coptic judge to head the Constitutional Court for the first time in history.
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