Sisi to meet with Egyptian church leaders, may discuss Iraqi Christians
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi will meet with the heads of Egyptian churches Thursday to discuss their demands and suggestions concerning internal issues, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Wednesday.

Egyptian evangelical leader Rev. Safwat Bayadi said in statements reported by Al-Masry Al-Youm he is going to ask Sisi to allow Iraq’s Christians to seek refuge in Egypt, as the Jihadist Islamist State (IS) now controls large swaths of northern Iraq.

Bayadi said the coming meeting is proof that Sisi is eager to communicate with all Egyptians from different backgrounds.

In late July, the interdenominational Egyptian Council of Churches was considering a proposal to raise funds for Iraqi Christians from Mosul forced to flee their homes due to IS- sponsored religious persecution, said Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria spokesman Royce Morqos, Al-Shorouq reported July 31.

Bayadi issued a statement last July calling on Arab states to take firm and quick decisions to protect Iraqi Christians from IS, saying according to Wady-Masr, “We all need to stand for justice, as any neglect of these countries’ rights will not be forgiven by history.”

He called on the Arab League to take action to protect lives and property.

Coptic Orthodox Church official Bishop Salib Matta [m1] declined to comment on the upcoming meeting in comments to The Cairo Post Wednesday, saying only, “We first have to wait and see what our leaders are going to discuss tomorrow and what kind of decisions they are going to make.”

Reuters reported last July that IS distributed statements in Mosul demanding that Christians who wanted to remain in IS’s self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract. A “dhimma” contract was a historic practice under which non-Muslims were allowed to remain in Muslim lands in return for a tax known as “jizya.”

IS has threatened death to non-Muslims who refuse to pay “jizya,” or convert to Islam.

“We offer them three choices: Islam, the ‘dhimma contract,’ or if they refuse this, they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said according to Reuters.

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