The Copts in the Minya village of Manshat al-Mughlaqa in Mallawi, some 250km south of Cairo, are living in terror at the hands of a local criminal who goes by the name Saddam Hussein.
Hussein is the brother of another notorious villain whose ruthless ferocity earned him the dreaded name of Holako, and who was killed a year ago in a shooting when he attempted to kidnap a Coptic woman from her home.
Saddam, who in the lifetime of his brother acted as his right hand, continues along the same path, terrorising the Copts in the villages of the district. Together with his criminal gang, they descend on the villages and target the Copts, many of whom are the wealthier members of the community. They force them to pay tribute money at the peril of their lives and the lives of their children. In case the Copts are landowners, their fields and cattle are promptly set on fire if they refuse to pay up.
Eyewitnesses complained to Watani that they feel unprotected; the police, they said, know about Saddam’s gang but do nothing.
When the Muslim villagers attempted to face the gang they were told to stand by; “We didn’t come for you,” one of the gangsters said, “We’ve come for the Coptic dogs.”
The gang is heavily armed, eyewitnesses say. Doubtful of any police protection, many Copts have had to pay up for their own safety. The tribute money may range anywhere from EGP25,000 to ten times that much. But much more painful, said a Coptic villager who begged for his name to be withheld, some of the Muslim villagers are now collaborating with Saddam’s gang against the Copts.
As they continue to live in sheer terror, the Copts of Manshat al-Mughlaqa have resorted to sending pleas to the military and security leaderships in the capital to interfere and protect them. So far, however, no protection has come their way.
10 November 2013