The Copts leave; peace reigns

03-02-2012 07:24 PM

Nash’at Abul-Kheir - Nader Shukry


This Friday passed peacefully in the village of Sharbat in al-Nahda, Amriya, south of Alexandria, with no attack waged against the Copts in the village. The Muslim villagers had threatened that, unless the six Coptic families they had decided to banish from the village leave

This Friday passed peacefully in the village of Sharbat in al-Nahda, Amriya, south of Alexandria, with no attack waged against the Copts in the village. The Muslim villagers had threatened that, unless the six Coptic families they had decided to banish from the village leave, an attack will be waged against the Coptic villagers on Friday; their homes and businesses will be burned. 
In a ‘conciliation session’ held last Wednesday, with the participation of the elders of the village, seven local sheikhs, the local priest Fr Boqtor, as well as local politicians and security officials, the decision was taken to banish six Coptic families from the village. Major among these families was the Abiskharoun Abu-Soliman clan, a member of which was accused of having fired shots in the air to ward off the Muslim mob which was closing in on the homes and shops of the family. It later turned out the shots had not been fired by any of the Abu-Soliman members, as the Muslim eyewitnesses testified, but by one of the mob.
Even though the elder of the Abu-Soliman clan bitterly complained of the injustice. “We are now being banished even though we did nothing wrong, and even though two houses and six stores owned by our family were looted and burned. We have sustained losses that run in the millions of pounds, and now we are being thrown out of our home village.” 
The family left the village anyway; the threats were too vicious to ignore.
The problem in al-Nahda began last week when a Coptic tailor, Murad Sami Girgis, was accused of circulating indecent photos of a Muslim woman through his mobile phone. Despite the fact that the allegation was—and still is—unsubstantiated, the village Copts were all attacked and their homes and businesses looted and burned. Girgis and his family were banished from the village, but this did not pacify the Muslim villagers, who insisted all the Copts should leave the village. The Copts for their part claimed that the problem had nothing to do with any indecent photos, but with the fact that Muslim villagers owed money to the Copts in the village—most of whom are wealthy traders and professionals—and wished to default on their debts.
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