In the wake of the 12 March attack against the Copts of the district of Reefiya in the coastal town of Marsa Matrouh some 320km west of Alexandria, a reconciliation session was held on Wednesday 17 March to resolve the matter out of court. Participating in the session, which was held in a tent erected especially for the occasion in front of Matrouh’s legendary beach, was Matrouh governor Ahmed Hussein; archbishop of Beheira, Matrouh, and Pentapolis Anba Pakomeus; secretary general of the National Democratic Party (NDP) in Matrouh General Khairallah Fadl; the elders of the Bedouin tribes of Matrouh; as well as a number of priests and sheikhs.
All the attendants strongly denounced the eight-hour-long attack which had left 28 injured—24 Copts and four Muslims—and some 17 houses, 12 cars and two motorcycles owned by Copts looted and set aflame.
Governor Hussein announced that the NDP MPs donated between them a sum of EGP100,000 as a contribution towards compensating the [Coptic] victims for their losses. He said a committee has been formed, headed by secretary-general of Matrouh governorate General Attiya al-Sayed, to determine the volume of the losses incurred by the Reefiya Copts in order for the governorate to indemnify them. A Church committee had already estimated these losses at some EGP1,112,000. The victims received urgent monetary and in kind donations from Beheira bishopric, in addition to contributions in kind sent by a number of churches in Cairo and Alexandria.
Out-of-court reconciliation preconditions that all complaints reported to the police should be officially relinquished. The Copts thus withdrew the reports they had submitted to the public prosecutor detailing the attacks against them, and citing their losses. These amounted to some 54 reports.
The reconciliation pact was signed by all, and was presented to the public prosecutor by the local politicians, coupled with an appeal for the release of all the detainees. Following the 12 March attack, the security forces had arrested and detained 19 Muslims and 15 Copts. This had infuriated the Copts since the young Coptic men detained had been caught as they left the Angel’s Charity house in which they had been besieged all through the attack, meaning they could have had no hand whatsoever in it. When Anba Pakomeus called for their immediate release, he was told by the local politicians and security officials that, legally, this could come by only if a reconciliation pact was signed between the disputing parties. Otherwise, the detainees would have to wait their day in court. The detainees were all released last Thursday and the file closed. But since the Muslim detainees were also released, there are no culprits to be taken to task for all the crimes committed.
Sheikh Ahmed Khamees, the mosque imam who instigated the violence by calling through the mosque microphone upon Muslims to rise in jihad “against the enemies of Islam” and who egged them on by calls of Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) whenever they inflicted damage upon Copts and their property, has been arrested. But he has also been released.