During a meeting last evening between the Muslim and Coptic elders of the Beni Sweif town of Wasta, it was agreed that offensive actions against Copts and their churches should stop, and that Coptic-owned shops which had been forced by Islamists to close for the last eight days would safely reopen starting this morning
During a meeting last evening between the Muslim and Coptic elders of the Beni Sweif town of Wasta, it was agreed that offensive actions against Copts and their churches should stop, and that Coptic-owned shops which had been forced by Islamists to close for the last eight days would safely reopen starting this morning.
The offences against Copts and the forced closure of their shops came in retaliation against the disappearance more than a month ago of the young Muslim woman Rana al-Shazli who the Islamists allege was ‘tricked’ into converting to Christianity and is being kept in hiding by the Church.
The Muslim town elders have been exerting huge efforts to limit the actions that target the Copts and their Church which has been constantly repeating it had nothing to do with the disappearance of Shazli.
Shazli, a student at Beni Sweif University, has since her disappearance sent her parents a few letters, which she also posted online, saying she had left home because of alleged sexual abuse by her uncle, followed by attempts by her father to marry her off to a man she did not want. She wrote that she had married a Muslim and was expecting a baby, and that they left the country.
Shazli’s father, however, together with the Salafis in Wasta, insist that she had been the victim of black magic by Fr Maqar of Mar-Girgis’s and that she was still in the country.
The escalating campaign against the town Copts was led by Shazli’s uncle. Apart from the demonstrations menacing the Copts and their churches, Coptic-owned shops were forced to close, with threats that they would not be allowed to reopen till Shazli came back, “even if this took a full year”. Muslim women were ordered not to work for Coptic employers, and an attack using Molotic cocktails was waged against the church of Mar-Girgis. This started a small fire which was then extinguished by Father Maqar, and a few members of the congregation.
Even though peace now reigns in Wasta, security is tight around the church.
Possibly among the anti-Coptic offensive, the car of Fr Shenouda of the church of Anba Abanoub in Wasta was set ablaze in the early hours of Monday. Fr Shenouda, aided by his Muslim neighbour, put out the fire and found that gas had been sprinkled all over the car. He directly reported the incident to the police, but accused no one since, as he explained to Watani he had not actually seen anything.
26 March 2013
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