In a replay of the violence against Copts in the Minya village of Kom al-Loufi on 29 June [http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/second-time-in-three-weeks-copt-homes-burned-on-suspicion-of-building-church/16772/]
and the Alexandria village of al-Beida in Amriya on 17 June [http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/amriya-copts-attacked-on-suspicion-of-prayer/16762/], the Copts of the village of Abu-Yacoub in Minya, some 230km south of Cairo, were attacked on a rumour that they were converting a pre-school nursery into a church. Five Coptic homes were destroyed and set on fire.
The local Copts say the rumour is totally baseless since the village already has a church, the church of Mar-Mina al-Agaibi. Eyewitnesses told Watani that the houses in Abu-Yacoub al-Qibliya (South Abu-Yacoub) were looted and set ablaze till they burned completely, at the hands of a 1000-strong mob shouting Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest). Most of the mobbing men, the witnesses said, came from Abu-Yacoub al-Bahriya (North Abu-Yacoub); their leader was a man that goes by the name Ashraf Sayed Elwan, and works as a chauffeur to a police officer.
The Copts complained that the police confiscated mobile phones from those who were suspected of having captured shots or video footage of the mobbing and fires.
The police surrounded the burnt houses and forbade their owners from going in.
The Bishopric of Minya and Abu-Qurqas issued a statement regarding the incident. It reads:
“At 9:15pm on Thursday 15 July 2016, a group of [Muslim] extremists waged an attack that targeted the houses of the Copts in the village of Abu-Yacoub in Minya on account of a rumour that the Copts were building a church, a rumour which is entirely untrue. The attack destroyed five houses that belong to Estimalek Youssef Estimalek, Yuhanna Youssef Estimalek, Abdel-Malak Saleeb, Ibrahim Khalil, and Waheed Wadie Farag.
“The police and firemen arrived at the scene after the houses were destroyed.
“The bishopric demands again, and will continue to do so without fail or despair, that the offenders should be taken to account. Every time offenders are not brought to justice others are encouraged to commit more criminal acts in the assurance that they will be guarded and defended in flagrant challenge to the entire community.
“No one has the right to attack others, be they Copt or Muslim, or destroy their property. There is no State authority that we have not approached with accounts of our suffering. We still demand that the law should be applied.”
[Signed] Anba Macarius
Bishop-General of Minya and Abu-Qurqas
16 July 2016