Situation is 'getting better' for Christians in Egypt

Bishop Kyrillos William of Assiut (Photo: Aid to the Church in Need)

There are still threats to Christians in Egypt but after decades of persecution, the situation is showing signs of improvement, a church leader in the country has said.

Coptic Catholic Bishop Kyrillos William of Assiut told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that things were "getting better" for the Christian community in Egypt despite the ongoing threat of extremist attacks.

"We thank God that the situation is getting better. The president [el-Sisi] has goodwill towards the Christians. He is a president for all Egyptians," he said.

He said that extremists were targeting Christians to instill fear of their place in society and that in some areas, they have been targeting Coptic girls for abduction.

But he said they would not succeed in their overall aim of establishing an Islamic State in the country because of the strong national unity.

"Attacks happen from time-to-time perpetrated by Islamists. The goal is not only to attack Christians but also the Egyptian government," he said.

"They want to say to Christians, 'The government cannot protect you. You should leave Egypt.'

"They would like to establish an Islamic State but in Egypt it will never materialise. Egyptians are close – Christians and Muslims are too united for the extremists to cause problems."

While in the past, Christians have faced obstacles when trying to construct new churches, the bishop said this shows signs of changing.

"There is a mentality since 1952 that treats Christians as second-class citizens. Now, some change has happened and things are getting better," he continued.

"Building churches is easier than before. We don't have to wait years to get a church built."