The court has decided to adjourn the case of the attack against the church of al-Amir Tadros in the village Kafr al-Wassleen in Etfeeh, Giza, till 10 January 2018 in response to a request by the defence to study the full documents presented to the court.
In the meantime, 16 defendants are in police custody, and the police is looking for four others who are on the run.
The church was subject to an attack on Friday 22 December when, following Friday noon prayers, hundreds of village Muslims gathered in front of the small building used by the village Copts as a de-facto church for some 15 years. The Muslim mobsters screamed the Islamic chant of Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) and hostile cries that called for bringing the church down. They broke into the building, injuring three Copts who were there, destroying everything inside, and throwing out the Bibles and religious objects. The Coptic villagers claim that the attack came in the wake of a rumour circulated in the village that they intended to install a bell in their church.
The police arrived, dispersed the assailants and secured the area. The injured: Eid Attiya Ibrahim, Nadi Eid Attiya, and Samir Saad Ibrahim, were moved to Etfeeh Hospital.
Fifteen men were caught by the police and charged with mobbing, beating, using religion to stoke sectarian sedition, and breaking into and destroying the property of others. One Copt was also caught, Eid Attiya Ibrahim, and charged with erecting a building without licence. Mr Ibrahim had constructed the building as a village house but the sold it to the Church which converted it into the de-facto church of al-Amir Tadros.
The bishopric of Etfeeh submitted documents to the court proving that the building in question was a church owned by the bishopric. The de-facto church is unlicensed, owing to the near impossibility of obtaining official licence to build a church prior to the 2016 law for building churches. Once this law was passed, however, Etfeeh bishopric applied to legalise the status of al-Amir Tadros’s according to the new law.
The Copts’ lawyer, Saad Mounir, said that there are have been three claims against the attackers: one for the assault against the victims; another for the destruction caused to the church and a Copt-owned house; and a third against the civil violations of mobbing and breaking into others’ property.
Mr Mounir said the victims insist on their legal rights, and do not intend to consider any out-of-court settlement, even though they are being pressured by the village Muslims to ‘conciliate’, a process that involves dropping their claims against their attackers.
28 December 2017