The church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in the small village of Kom al-Asfar in Tahta, Sohag, Upper Egypt, was victim of an attack yesterday by dozens of the Muslim villagers
The church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in the small village of Kom al-Asfar in Tahta, Sohag, Upper Egypt, was victim of an attack yesterday by dozens of the Muslim villagers.
The villagers mobbed in front of the church to protest renovation work that was being carried out to repair one of the church’s inner wall which is adjacent to the home of a Muslim villager. They hurled stones at the church, crying Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest). Once the police arrived, the mobsters fled to the side streets of the village.
The police stopped the restoration work and summoned the church##s priest Fr Elishaa Nasri for questioning.
According to Saad Dahshour, a Coptic villager, the church building, which dates back to 1856, had become dilapidated and even life threatening. Those in charge of the church tried, throughout the last five years, to obtain a renovation permit, but the local officials refused to grant them a permit. Last week, Mr Dahshour said, part of the inner wall fell, and the church had to repair it.
The church serves three other nearby villages which have no churches.
Armanius Eweida of the Maspero Youth Union, said that the incident brought to light the worst of the problems Copts face where their churches are concerned. Are Copts supposed to leave their churches to collapse and threaten their lives while the authorities refuse to permit them to do any repairs? Or should churches be left to crumble until they are unusable?
Buildings in villages generally are erected without any permit, so why are churches required to obtain permits if they as much as add a brick? Mr Eweida said. He denounced the incident, especially that the priest is now being questioned as a lawbreaker, while the mobsters who attacked the church run free; none of them was caught.
19 February 2013