The Copts in the village of Koum al-Loufi in Samalout, Minya, some 250km south of Cairo, were today not able to hold Good Friday prayers owing to threats by extremist Muslims in the village. The village witnessed heavy security presence to protect the Copts; the police threatened that perpetrators of violence will not be allowed to escape justice. The day passed peacefully, but neither the Copts nor the Muslims were able to leave their homes: the Muslims out of fear from the police; the Copts for fear that they would be attacked or caught in the crossfire if clashes occur.
Yesterday, the Koum al-Loufi Copts were attacked by fundamental Muslims for holding Holy Thursday prayers in a house owned by a Copt. Since the village includes no church, the Copts had been granted a permit by the local security authorities to hold these prayers. The police secured the building but, after the worship ended and the Copts started on their way to their homes, they were shocked to find themselves the targets of Muslim stone-throwers. Four Copts were injured. The police chased away the attackers but caught none of them. A few hours later, two uninhabited Coptic-owned houses that lie on the outskirts of the village were set on fire. The firemen were called and the fire put out. It is obvious the fundamentalists took advantage of the fact that the police was focusing on securing the Copts inside the village but the outskirts were uncovered. The police caught at least 15 Muslim suspects.
The village of Koum al-Loufi has been the scene of sectarian conflict since last June on account of the Muslim villagers rejection of the idea of the Copts’ having a church in the village. The Koum al-Loufi 1600-strong Coptic population claim they have a right to a place of worship in the village, and have been attempting to build a church but their Muslim fellow-villagers have violently attacked them for doing so.
14 April 2017