In the wake of a local rumour of an affair between a Coptic man and a Muslim woman, the Muslim villagers of Ezbet Zakariya in Minya waged an attack against the Copts in the village
, resulting in four Coptic-owned houses, as well as three huts, two stores, two taxi cabs and one brand new car were burned.
The events began last Friday when word got around of the relation between the young people. Islam bans relations or marriage between a Muslim woman and any non-Muslim man. In what amounts to collective punishment, the Muslim villagers started an attack against Copts and managed to set on fire two Coptic homes and a car parked outside one of them before the police stepped in and contained the matter.
According to Father Ibrahim Khalil of the village church, a conciliation meeting was held between the Coptic and Muslim village elders on Saturday evening. It was decided that the young man should be fined EGP150,000 and should directly leave the village. This despite an official medical report which declared the Muslim woman in question had not lost her chastity and was safe and sound.
But the Muslim villagers, who had hoped for a harsher ruling against the Copts—they demanded that the six-family clan to which the Copt belongs should be made to leave the village—called for help from the Muslims in three neighbouring villages and waged a full-scale attack against the Copts. Sunday morning, they torched the Copts’ homes and businesses; Fr Ibrahim’s estimate of the losses amounts to some EGP1 million. He told Watani the police only protected the church but failed to defend Coptic homes and property.
Sixteen Muslim and Coptic men were caught on the pretext of possession of Molotov cocktails.
1 October 2013
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