A delegation from the Evangelical Church in Egypt will be in Luxor next Wednesday to meet Luxor governor Samir Farag to express their grave concern at the incident which occurred on Thursday 18th March and involved Reverend Mahrous Zakariya, his wife, and three-year-old son.
The pastor, who lives in a flat on the second floor of the social services building of the Evangelical Church in Luxor, was stunned to find a demolition squad accompanied by security forces surround the building. The purpose was to demolish the building which, among other buildings, stood in the way of unearthing the ancient 3000-year-old sphinx alley.
Rev Zakariya said there had been negotiations between the Evangelical Church and the town council last year to demolish the two-storey services building which includes a child care centre that serves thirty children daily, a meeting hall, a student hostel, a guest house, and the pastor’s home. A 650sq.m playground attached to the building was used as a sports club. The Church was willing to give up the building and club in exchange for being allocated an alternative piece of land on which to erect a new building. This is the standard practice followed by Luxor town council when buildings are demolished to make way for the excavations. In the case of the Evangelical Church’s services building, however, the town council never offered any reply and the negotiations stalled.
On that fateful Thursday the demolition was set to be executed without any prior notice to the pastor. When the pastor opposed the surprise demolition, he was assaulted, dragged around, and his eye glasses broken. His wife was hit, and one of the members of the squad took hold of his little boy and threatened his mother he would place him under the raging bulldozer if they did not immediately leave the house. Their furniture was thrown out and the building demolished. The children in the day care centre were driven out; needless to say the terror they were subjected to.
When Governor Farag was asked about the incident he said the house was being demolished for public benefit. To which the Evangelical Church retorted that they were not opposed to the public benefit demolition, but they demanded proper compensation and strongly protested against the inhuman treatment accorded to Rev Zakariya and his family.