Thugs impose tribute on Copts of Assiut

23-12-2013 04:38 PM

Nader Shukry

The sufferings of Copts are still going on under the total absence of law and order in the State

Last week, Muslim thugs from the village of Berba in Sadfa of the Upper Egyptian city of Assiut terrified Copts from the same village, imposed tributes on them and threatened them with weapons. These outlaws attacked the community service building affiliated to the Mar-Girgis (St George’s) Church in Berba. When the Church officials refused to pay the tribute, the outlaws demolished the first floor of the centre, which is still under construction. The church filed an official report at the Sadfa police station and contacted Assiut’s security director , who sent forces. When the forces arrived, however, the outlaws escaped but returned when the police left. 
“We succeeded in obtaining official permits to build the community service building on a total space of 600 square metres to use for Sunday Schools, classes for illiterates and a clinic. The ground floor was built, but after building the base of the first floor we received a phone call from thugs belonging to the Dabaya family who demanded EGP100,000 to let us continue building,” says Father Philemon Abdallah Mishreqi of Mar-Girgis’s. 
Unable to pay tribute
Fr Mishreqi added: “We live in a poor village; we have been collecting donations for a long time ago to build the community centre and we can’t afford to pay such a sum. When we refused the thugs attacked the labourers, beat them and demolished the first floor, but weren’t able to demolish the columns. In the official report we accused all the members of the Dabaya family, especially someone called Yehia Zakariya. The problem now is that the labourers are refusing to continue working, and the thugs have imposed tributes on some Coptic families and forced others to leave the village because of continuous threats that they would kill their children. This happened with the family of Nabil Dawoud. Dawoud had to leave his home which was then seized by the outlaws.”
Fr Philemon finally asked the government to intercede immediately and apply the law. He demanded that the thugs be prevented from threatening and imposing tribute on Copts, especially after a recent fight between a Muslim and a Coptic family left a Muslim dead. They are now collecting as much money and weapons as they can to attack the Copts. 
Berba is home to 12,000 Copts out of the total population of 45,000. The imposition of tribute on Copts in the Upper Egyptian cities of Minya, Assiut and Sohag is a crime which saw a dramatic increase following the 25 January 2011 Revolution, in addition to incidents of kidnapping Copts and asking for ransom. 
Watani International
23 December 2013
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