Sarkozy Deplores Attack Against Egypt Church


French President Nicolas Sarkozy made his annual New Year's address to religious leaders on Friday. In it, he described recent violence against Christians as a “perverse plan of religious cleansing in the Middle East”.

He said religious and cultural diversity cannot disappear from the region.

A series of violent attacks have hit Christians living in Egypt and Iraq in recent months.

In Iraq last October dozens of people were killed during a siege of a Christian church in Baghdad - that was followed by more attacks in December.

And in Egypt on New Year’s Day a bomb planted outside a church killed more than 20 people. It was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt for decades.

Erica Hunter, a Lecturer in Eastern Christianity at Britain’s School of Oriental and African Studies,says attacks against Christians in the Middle East have taken a decisive shift in recent months.

""What is new in Iraq and in Egypt is the actual targeting of Christians in churches. Previously there had been many kidnappings, difficulties, murders but we have not seen until October the 31 where worshipers are actually attacked within the churches,"" Hunter said.