Copts attacked on suspicion of building a church

06-08-2014 09:10 AM

Muslim fundamentalists in the Upper Egyptian village of Ezbet Yacoub al-Bahriya (Ezbet Yacoub North) in Minya, some 240km south of Cairo, last evening waged a Molotov attack against the homes and shops of the Coptic villagers. Under cover of dark in the wake of a power outage, dozens of the fundamentalists started their attack on the evening of Monday 4 August, screaming Islamic slogans, and were only stopped a few hour later when security forces finally arrived and imposed calm. They made sure the power was back and proceeded to arrest the offenders.
The Coptic villagers had tried to call the local police but got no response, upon which they sent cries for help to Watani who then took the matter to the National Security through Magdy Malak of Minya local government. The Copts kept to their homes and attempted to protect themselves and their families. The losses are not known yet.
Three days ago, the Muslim villagers of the twin village Ezbet Yacoub al-Qibliya (Ezbet Yacoub South) had attacked with Molotov cocktails a house under construction which they claimed would have been turned into an unlicensed church by its Coptic owner. Clashes broke out between the Muslim and Coptic villagers but the police intervened and placed the building under custodianship.
The matter is now being investigated by the prosecution, but there are efforts to conduct a ‘conciliation’ between the Copts and Muslims. Traditionally, ‘ conciliation’ is an out-of-court settlement which, in case of attacks against Copts, are usually used to pressure the Copts into relinquishing their legal rights. As such, the practice is frowned upon by Copts and rights activists, but nevertheless persists.
Even while efforts at conciliation were ongoing, skirmishes broke out between the Copts and Muslims of Ezbet Yacoub al-Bahriya in the wake of an argument on the recent attacks against the Copts. The police caught 11 villagers, seven Copts and four Muslims.

Watani International
6 August 2014

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