Church in Minya set ablaze, but life goes on

15-05-2016 08:55 PM

Nour Seifien - Madeleine Nader - Teresa Shenouda - Nevine Gadallah


The grounds of the church of the Holy Virgin which was burned to the ground by

extremist Muslims last Thursday 11 May, today was the scene of the celebration of

Holy Mass by Anba Makarius, Bishop of Minya and Abu-Qurqas. Despite the

scorching hot weather Egypt is witnessing, with temperatures exceeding 47

degrees Celsius, a large congregation of some 500 filled the place. In his sermon,

Anba Makarius thanked the Coptic villagers for enduring the burning of their

church with patience and fortitude, saying: “This way you have willingly applied

the teachings of the Bible. You have ‘not answered evil with evil’; you have

‘blessed and not cursed’.” He also thanked the Muslim villagers who gave support

to the Copts.

After Mass, Anba Makarius visited the Coptic family whose house adjacent to the

church ground caught fire and suffered damages.

Last evening, a wedding was held on the grounds of the church. The newlyweds

said they did not mind the scorched ground and just added flowers and palm fronds

to make the place beautiful. Father Jonathan Adel, pastor of the Holy Virgin’s,

presided over the ceremony.

The church of the Holy Virgin in the village of al-Ismailiya al-Bahriya 6km north

of Minya, Upper Egypt, had been attacked by Muslim extremists during the dawn

hours on Thursday 11 May. They set it ablaze and burned it to the ground. The

church has been housed for more than a year now in a 180 square metre marquee

which acted as temporary premises for the congregation to participate in regular

services. The original building was closed in 2009 since it was unlicensed, but

there were talks between the Church on one hand and the local authorities to

reopen the closed church. The religious rites held under the marquee were public

and known to all.

On Saturday 14 May, security officials in Minya announced they had caught the

culprits who were behind the burning of the church. They are 24-year- old driver

Muhammad M. E., and 18-year- old peasant Ramadan M.A. They said they burned

the church because they had a dispute with the security guard guarding the church,

Ibrahim Shehata Attiya. Attiya is a member of the local security force and was

officially assigned to guard the church.

Watani International

15 May 2016

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