The village church at Sawada in Minya, Upper Egypt, is now closed following a recent attack by extremist Muslims.
Until three years ago Sawada had no church, so the village Copts joined two adjacent houses–village houses in Egypt are very small, with floor areas not more than some 20 – 30 square metres–and used them as a church. For the sake of privacy, they recently began constructing a fencing wall around the houses, upon which a group of Muslim villagers attacked the church.
According to Ezzat Ibrahim, a Minya rights activist, the
fanatics attacked the church, demolished the fence, clashed with the local priest Fr Pachomius Waheeb who was attempting to defend the church and tore his gown, then began setting the church ablaze. A
water pipe burst, however, which saved the church from a dire fate.
The police were informed, but they closed the church under the pretext that it now posed a security hazard and that the houses were not licensed for use as a church.
Sawada Copts fear their church, which serves some 2500 Copts will still be closed during Christmas; Egypt’s Christians celebrate Christmas on 7 January.
Copts in Egypt suffer bitterly from outdated, unjust, overly stringent laws and procedures that govern the building of churches. It is hoped that the newly elected parliament should, as stipulated by Egypt’s 2014 Constitution established after Egyptians overthrew the post-Arab Spring Islamist regime, pass a new law for the building of churches.
22 December 2015
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