Egyptian Muslim Radicals Destroy Coptic Christian Properties

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi greets Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church. Al-Sisi has attempted to improve relations between the Muslim and Christian communities.Reuters

Muslim radicals have attacked properties and homes belonging to Coptic Christians in Egypt after rumours circulated about a church being constructed.

According to International Christian Concern, the attacks took place in Manshiet El-Naghamish village located in the Sohag Governorate in Upper Egypt.

More than 2,000 Coptic Christians live in the village, with the nearest church being over three miles away. When Christian villagers in El-Naghamish built a four-storey building to be used as a community centre, preschool and retirement home, Muslims in the vicinity assumed that the building would become a church. While the Christians in the village have applied for a permit to build a church, they are still awaiting approval from the government.

Leaflets called on local Muslims to attack the community were distributed after the local bishop was asked to preside over a prayer meeting.

Samir Nashed, a Christian resident of El-Naghamish, told ICC: "On Friday [at] noon, November 25, following the Muslim prayers, a great deal of fanatic Muslim young men, some of them were carrying gas canisters and rocks while others came armed with automatic rifles, clubs, machetes and knives, they attacked Copts and Coptic-owned houses."

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Four Copts were injured, a Christian-owned guest house was destroyed as well as nine Coptic homes, and four Coptic-owned shops were looted and burnt.

"The attackers cut [off] the road so that the fire trucks could not enter the village; they also cut off the water and power supply to the village," Nashed explained to ICC.

After police gained control of the situation, they arrested 18 Muslims involved in the attack. The Governor of Sohag and the Chief of Security of Sohag visited the scene and held a reconciliation session between the two communities.

William Stark, ICC's Regional Manager, said: "We are shocked at the news of yet another attack against Christians incited by rumours of church construction. ICC mourns with the families who have lost their homes and businesses due to these hate crimes. This is the latest in a long string of similar attacks and we are impatient to see proper justice served.

"The Egyptian government must do more to secure the lives and properties of all citizens, including Christians."

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