Egyptian Church ravaged by sectarian violence in 2013 finally reopens

Bishop Macarius of MinyaLouafi Larbi/Reuters

A church in Minya was re-opened on Saturday after renovations in the wake of damage caused by sectarian attacks.

The church in the village of Beni Mazar was one of 69 churches attacked in the sectarian violence that broke out following the anti-Mohamed Morsi uprising and post-Muslim Brotherhood sit-in dispersals in 2013.

According to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in August, 'at least 45 churches came under simultaneous attack in various governorates as soon as procedures to clear the two sit-ins began, resulting in the death of 7 citizens, the torching of 25 churches, the looting and destruction of 7 churches and the partial destruction of 5 more churches. This is in addition to assaults on numerous schools, civic associations and church-affiliated social services buildings.'

The renovations were carried out by the Egyptian Armed Forces Engineering Authority, and the church was opened on Saturday by Head of the Evangelical Community Andrea Zaki and the Minya governor.

Another church recently restored in the area was St. Peter and St. Paul Church, which was damaged by an attack on 11 December by a suicide bomber allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State.

As a result of these attacks, many churches in Minya have been closed for security reasons. Bishop Macarius said that his parish alone, which includes only Minya city and its immediate environs, had 15 churches closed by security order, and 70 villages and hamlets left without anywhere to hold Christian worship.

The governorate of Minya has experienced the greatest number of sectarian attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt, with over 75 in the past six years targeting Christian residents.