The Coptic community has no idea about the whereabouts of the thousand Christians who were supposedly given asylum

Author: Czene Gábor – Horváth Gábor Original title: A koptoknak fogalmuk sincs, hol az ezer befogadott keresztény
Publication: nol.hu , Photo:Zsuzsa Suhajda Date: 07:00 11/09/2015

The Coptic community has no idea about the whereabouts of the thousand Christians who were supposedly given asylum

The representatives of Coptic Christians living in Hungary don’t know anything about the allegation that a few years ago the Hungarian government secretly granted asylum to a thousand persecuted fellow Copts. The leader of this small religious community is certain that he would have noticed if such a thing had occurred.

Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog announced in Paris that in 2013-2014 Hungary had given asylum to a thousand Eastern Christian families from Iraq and Egypt- he said the arrangement had been made behind closed doors and the families involved were granted Hungarian citizenship. Balog also told RTL Klub News that the persecuted Christians were verified by the Churches of their countries of origin, and underwent national security checks. (The spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Refugees said religious discrimination of refugees was not acceptable.)

Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjártó Péter revealed in an interview that those granted asylum were in fact Coptic Christians. He told Népszabadság (daily Hungarian newspaper – translator) that “Hungary gives asylum to refugees too, but we don’t talk about it. When Coptic Christians were persecuted in Egypt, over a thousand were granted asylum here.

The church of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Hungary was consecrated in 2011 in the XVIII district of Budapest. The community is small, according to the Revenue Services the Coptic Church of Hungary receives only a few hundred 1% income tax donations.

We talked to a regular church-goer as well as a former prefect of the congregation. According to them the church is attended by approximately a hundred to a hundred and ten families, which means around five hundred people. This number is in total, not per occasion. Both were surprised by the government’s announcement, neither knows about thousands of Coptic Christians settling recently in Hungary. There were only a few families, no more than ten or twenty.

Khalil Youssef , leader of the Coptic Church of Hungary, who was abroad when we managed to reach him, spoke about similar numbers. To the best of his knowledge the families who joined the congregation in Budapest recently are mainly businessmen’s families, not secretly settled refugees. They have residence permits, but they are not permanent residents of Hungary; they travel around Europe and all over the world.

It is traditional that the church is the first place where Coptic Christians present themselves when they go to a new country, a new community. Hence Khalil Youssef says it is out of the question that he would not have known about new Coptic Christians – especially thousands of them – settling in Hungary.

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