Monday afternoon some 250 Salafis broke into a plot of land owned by Shubral-Kheima Bishopric in the district of Mantai. The land is adjacent to a Coptic community centre in the name of the Holy Virgin and St Abanoub
Monday afternoon some 250 Salafis broke into a plot of land owned by Shubral-Kheima Bishopric in the district of Mantai. The land is adjacent to a Coptic community centre in the name of the Holy Virgin and St Abanoub, and was undergoing construction work. The centre was to serve some 20,000 Copts who live in Mantai.
The Salafis attacked the workers on the site and in the nearby building and sent them packing, seized the bricks and cement stored on the partially-built land, occupied it and placed a sign denoting it was “al-Rahman mosque”.
Anba Morqos of Shubral-Kheima demanded that the security authorities should directly evacuate the squatters before the matter turns into a sectarian conflict. The security did interfere in the early hours of today and evicted the Salafis, but they returned to the site later in the day armed with weapons and clubs.
Minutes ago, however, the sign of al-Rahman mosque was removed by the security men and the squatters left. But none of the violators were caught, neither did the prosecution conduct any investigation despite the official complaint filed by the Church, a fact which leaves the Copts worried about a possible return of the Salafis, especially given that the security men have left the place entirely.
Father Filopatir of the Mar-Mina and Abu-Seifein church in Shubral-Kheima told ++Watani++ that the Church was persuading the Coptic youth in the district to wait for action against the usurpers by the security authorities instead of attempting to seize their land by force. This, he said, would in all likelihood end in bloody clashes and many casualties, and would moreover bring back no Coptic rights, as the Copts have bitterly learned over the years. In such cases, Fr Filopatir reminded, the Copts are always asked to relinquish their rights ##for the sake of social peace##, a phrase that carries the veiled threat that should they insist on attaining their rights, the Copts would be harshly assaulted and the authorities would do nothing to defend them.
The Salafis who are occupying the land in Mantai have asked to hold a ‘conciliation’ session—a traditional out-of-court settlement to calm matters down, but which more often than not ends in the Copts being forced to relinquish all legal rights—with Anba Morqos. He refused, however, saying that the bishopric was in possession of all the legal documents of the land ownership and the building permits, so what was there to ‘conciliate’ about?
6 November 2012
The photo show the site under currently occupied by the Salafis, with the concrete columns on which hangs the sign of al-Rahman mosque. Another is an archival one of an assault by hardline Muslims against another piece of land of Shubral-Kheima bishopric in 2010. No building has been to date allowed on that land, despite the fact that the bishopric has all the legal documents and permits to do so.
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