More Coptic Christians suffer persecution over rumours of church building

Persecution against Christians in Egypt continues to escalate with the latest violence being attacks on eight Christian homes after a Muslim mob went on a "rampage" with gas canisters, rocks and birdshot guns.

Children cried in panic as Coptic homes and shops were vandalised by crowds yelling: "We don't want a church", "No God but Allah" and "Christians the enemies of Allah" in the attack in Saft el-Khirsa, south of Cairo. The village has a population of about 12,000 including 70 Christian families, with 10 mosques and no churches.

It is the latest of more than 12 similar Muslim mob assaults in just two months. The common trigger is rumours that secret churches are being set up.

Egypt currently grants common law rights to mosques but not to churches.

Eight Christian homes were attacked and Coptic Christians detained after Muslims in an Egyptian village went on a rampage following rumours of a house church being built.World Watch Monitor

Mahrous Ishak told World Watch Monitor: "On Thursday 21 July, we received threats of an attack the next day. We told the police and national security, but they showed no interest saying, 'If an attack happens, call us then and we'll come quickly.' On Friday, during the Muslim prayers the loudspeakers suddenly fell eerily silent. Later, crowds filed out of mosques. One cleric was clearly seen directing groups of people in different ways towards Christian homes."

When the police were called on the day of the attack, the Copts were told: "You wish to cause mayhem by building a church and now you come back crying?" Eight Copts and 10 Muslims were subsequently arrested.

A  meeting was then arranged where it was agreed that a community centre would be allowed where weddings and funerals can be held but no prayers or services said. There is to be no church.

In one video on social media, Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Naquib says all four schools of Sunni Muslim theology forbid the building of churches in the lands of Islam.