The police in Minya, some 250km south of Cairo, have caught 15 men in the village of Ezbet Zakariya in connection with an attack against the Coptic villagers last Friday 27 October. It is not yet known whether the men caught include Copts, and if so, how many.
The Coptic villagers of Ezbet Zakariya in Minya, some 250km south of Cairo, were attacked by a Muslim mob last Friday to protest the worship of the Copts in a de facto church in the village. They threw stones at the Copts wounding a Coptic woman, broke the doors to Coptic homes, and set on fire three stables. The police hastened to the village and surrounded the church so that no damage was inflicted on it. The mob quickly dispersed once the police arrived. The police closed the church for fear of further unrest.
The 1800-strong Coptic population in Ezbet Zakariya have been for decades using an old building for worship, under the name of the church of Mar-Girgis (St George). Recently, they renovated that building to include a pre-school nursery. The local security authorities assigned guards to protect the building.
The locals say that the attack against the Copts came on account of a flier circulated in the village, under the title: “We opened the church in spite of you”. The flier was made to appear as though written by Copts, even though, according to the locals, no Copt in his right mind would antagonise the Muslims by drafting such a flier. The flier, they say, was circulated to create unrest which would then be used as a pretext to close down the church. This is exactly what happened; it makes the Ezbet Zakariya church the fourth in Minya to be closed by the police during last week alone, and the fifth in Upper Egypt given the closure of the church in the village of Hager in Sohag.
Anba Macarius, Bishop of Minya, issued a statement yesterday regarding the church closures.
29 October 2017