Church building destroyed in Egypt

A building owned by the Coptic Church has been destroyed by Islamist extremists in Egypt.

According to a report by Watani Newspaper, the structure was razed to the ground by a 5,000-strong mob.

The building, in the village of Fanous Village, Tamia District, was owned by a Coptic society affiliated to Mar-Girgis (St George's) Church.

Construction began two months ago with official permission but it was not yet completed at the time of the attack.

The building was being erected on land donated by a Coptic villager and featured a reception hall and nursery.

The mob reportedly destroyed the building in response to a rumour circulating that it was a church.

According to Coptic villagers, the violence was preceded by calls from local mosques to defend Muslims against Christians who were building a church.

At a meeting prior to the attack, Muslim and Christian elders had reportedly agreed that only the second floor of the building would be demolished.

A report has been filed with the police but so far no one has been arrested.

The demolition has spread fear of further attacks among Coptic residents.

Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide said the incident in Fanous Village had followed a "chronic pattern of injustice that has contributed to the emergence of a culture of impunity with regards to sectarian violence".

"Once again a falsehood has been used to stoke religious sentiment, resulting in wanton destruction that the security services have failed to prevent," he said.

"The Egyptian government is seeking to restore international confidence in the nation and improve its image amongst investors.

"However, in order to progress and be respected as a thriving state with a dependable government, it is vital for Egypt to ensure the security, equality and fundamental freedoms of all of its citizens."