Last Friday saw an attempt by the Muslim clan of Houti to build a mosque on the land they seized from the Coptic Makanouti clan in the village of al-Ula in Amreya, southwest Alexandria. After Friday prayers, the Houtis began digging the foundation of what was to be a mosque that would neighbour the village church of Mar-Girgis (St George) which lies adjacent to the Makanouti’s land.
The Makanoutis called the police who directly came to the site and ordered the Houtis to fill the foundation they had dug. The order was executed and peace was restored. Had the mosque been built, it would have been impossible to pull down, and it would have become very difficult for the Makanoutis to regain their land with the mosque built there.
The Houtis had seized a 10-feddan plot of land legally owned by the Makanoutis, and had in two separate incidents resisted police efforts to hand over the land to the Makanoutis as per a court order. They turned the dispute into a sectarian issue and attacked the Copts in the village. At the same time they threatened they would kill the Makanoutis if they did not leave the village. [http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/amreya-copts-threatened-leave-or-well-kill-you/14729/
A conciliation agreement had been reached last week between the Makanoutis and the Houtis Arabs. The ‘conciliation’, a traditional out of court settlement worked out by the elders of the community and considered binding to the disputing parties, was orchestrated by the local politician Abdel-Moniem Ragheb who also represented the Makanoutis. The agreement imposed a four-month truce during which no member of any of the disputing clans may lay foot on the land. Since the land borders the local church of Mar-Girgis (St George), the Makanoutis should not cross it to go to the church. The Makanoutis, represented by Mr Ragheb, signed the agreement, saying it acts as a goodwill gesture and a truce that would extend four months, after which they should be handed their land. They said they would attend another church at a nearby village during the period of the truce.
The Houtis, who did not attend the conciliation session, have not yet signed the agreement.
12 October 2015