On the morning of 21 July, the police caught 16 Muslim men, by order of the prosecution, who were charged with attaching and burning the homes of Copts in the village of Abu-Yacoub in Minya, some 230km south of Cairo. However, the Coptic victims were forced to ‘conciliate’ with the attackers in a traditional out-of-court settlement that meant they had to withdraw their complaints to the legal authorities. Consequently, and upon demand of the lawyer of the Muslim men, all 16 Muslims were released on bail in the evening of the same day.
One week ago the Copts of the village of Abu-Yacoub, 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. It was 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/],
Five Coptic homes belonging to Estimalek Youssef Estimalek, Yuhanna Youssef Estimalek, Abdel-Malak Saleeb, Ibrahim Khalil, and Waheed Wadie Farag 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. 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 Bishopric of Minya and Abu-Qurqas issued a statement in which it said that: “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 emboldened to commit more criminal acts in the assurance that they will be guarded and defended in flagrant challenge to the entire community … There is no State authority that we have not approached with accounts of our suffering. We still demand that the law should be applied.”
Anba Macarius, Bishop-General of Minya and Abu-Qurqas, the following day met the victims of the attack. He comforted them and prayed for them. He told them the Church was in contact with the local authorities to resolve the case, compensate the victims, and see to it that justice should be served through application of the law.
Yesterday, however, the law was waived in favour of ‘conciliation’.
22 July 2016