Copts pay the price
Once news got around that Egyptian authorities were breaking up the sit-ins by the Islamist Mursi supporters at the east Cairo district of Rabaa al-Adawiya and the Nahda Square in Giza, west of Cairo,
Islamists in various places in Egypt waged violent attacks against Copts and churches. Copts had joined hands with Egypt’s Muslims to wage the 30 June revolution which brought down Mursi’s Islamist regime, and for this they had to be made to pay a heavy price.
Four Copts lost their lives. Iskandar Toss, 60, a resident in Dalga, Minya was shot dead after the Islamists broke into his house. He was then beheaded and his body dragged with ropes through the village streets.
Fawzy Mureed, 46, who lived in the east Cairo district of Ezbet al-Nakhl was killed, shot in the head. Mina Ra’fat, 25, a taxi driver in Alexandria was also shot dead when Islamists discovered he kept a cross in his cab. The 12-year-old Abanoub Maurice was shot during the attacks in Minya.
The police officer Captain Mina Ezzat from Beni-Sweif was shot to death while on duty.
In Upper Egypt
In the town of Sohag, some 460km south of Egypt, Islamists broke into the bishopric and its church of Mar-Girgis (St George) and set them on fire. According to Father Kyrillos of the bishopric, the fire had already eaten up the buildings by the time the fire truck arrived.
The Minya region, 240km south of Cairo, had the lion’s share of the attacks by the Islamists against the police and the Copts. Police stations in Matai and Beni-Mazar came under attack.
In the Coptic-majority village of Beni-Ahmed, which was the scene of recent attacks against the Copts by Islamists from the village and neighbouring villages, Mursi supporters started an attack against the Copts this morning but the police confronted them. And in the village of Dalga, also the scene of recent violence against Copts, the 4th-century Monastery of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am was targeted. The place is no longer a monastery even though it retains the name; the grounds include three churches and several community service buildings. Father Silwanis Lutfi told Watani that the Islamists broke into the grounds shouting Allahu Akbar, Allah is the Greatest, and set the churches on fire, as well as six buildings which house a clinic, a home for spiritual retreats, a pre-school nursery, and the bishop’s residence.
The Islamists also set fire to the church of Mar-Mina in the Abu-Hilal district south of the town of Minya, and also to a clinic which the church operates, again shouting Islamist slogans. They surrounded churches in Samalout and Mallawi.
The security and police forces were under pressure since their efforts are fragmented in the many locations under attack in the governorate.
…And in Lower Egypt
Two churches in the Fayoum villages of Nazla and Youssef al-Seddiq were burned, as well as the Friends of the Holy Bible Society in the town of Fayoum, some 100km southwest of Cairo.
In the town of Suez, 100km east of Cairo, the convent, church and the school of the Good Shepherd were set on fire by the Islamists who also blocked the road to prevent the fire trucks from reaching the convent.
Until the evening of 15 August when Watani International went to press the following churches and Coptic-owned institutions in Egypt had been burned at the hands of Islamists. Watani lists them here:
Coptic-owned shops, Maurice Pharmacy, and Horus Hotel on Karnak Street and Cleopatra Street in Luxor, looted and burnt.
The bishopric church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Sohag, Upper Egypt, and its community centre, burnt.
The church of St John the Baptist in Abnoub, burnt
The Adventist church on Yusri Ragheb St, burnt, and the pastor and his wife kidnapped.
The Apostolic church on Qulta Street, burnt.
The church of Mar-Girgis, on Qulta Street, burnt.
The church of St Michael on Nemeis Street, thown with stones.
The Coptic Orthodox bishopric of Abu-Tig, surrounded.
The houses on Gumhouriya and Qulta Streets, attacked and seven burned.
A sanctuary at St Therese church, burnt.
Three churches and six buildings at the monastery of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am in Dalga, Minya, were burned. These included a community service centre, a pre-school nursery, and the bishop’s residence. The Islamists emptied the church of whatever remained after the fire, began pulling it down and are excavating for antiquities.
More than 20 Coptic houses in Dalga attacked, plundered, and burned.
The Reform church in Dalga was burned.
The house of Fr Angaelus of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am’s in Dalga.
The church of Mar-Mina in the southern district of Abu-Hilal in the town of Minya, as well as a community centre and a clinic. The façade was completely destroyed.
The Evangelical church in the district of Gad al-Seed, Minya, was burned.
The church of al-Amir Tadros (St Theodore) in Minya, completely burnt.
The church of the Salvation of Souls, Minya, burnt.
The convent and school of St Joseph, Minya, burnt.
The church of Anba Moussa al-Aswad in Abu-Hilal, burnt.
The church of St John on the market street in Abu-Hilal, burnt.
The Jesuit Society in Minya, burnt.
The Coptic Boys School in Minya, burnt.
The Coptic orphanage for boys, burnt. Twenty-four children had to be relocated elsewhere.
The Evangelical church in Abu-Hilal, burnt.
The Baptist church in Beni-Mazar, burnt.
A number of shops, including a pharmacy, a paint shop, and several vehicles belonging to Copts, as well as a doctor’s clinic; plundered and damaged.
The Nile boat al-Dahabiya, owned and operated by the Evengelical church in Minya; attacked.
The YMCA al-Wadi club, burnt.
The Jesuit church, Minya, attempt to break in, hurling stones and rocks.
The Jesuit School, Minya, attempt to set it on fire.
A number of Coptic houses and shops burned in Deir Muwass.
The St Mark Coptic Catholic church in Minya, attacked with stones and attempt to break in.
The Coptic Orthodox Bishopric in Mallawi, attacked with gunfire, Molotov cocktails, and stones.
The Coptic Orthodox Bishopric in Deir Muwass, attacked with gunfire, Molotov cocktails, and stones.
The Evangelical church in Samalout, plundered and ruined, then the Islamists held afternoon prayers there.
The church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Wasta, twice attacked with stones.
The Catholic Sisters’ School in Beni Sweif, burnt and occupied.
The church of the Holy Virgin in Manzala, burnt.
The church of al-Amir Tadros in Manzala, burnt.
The church of St Dimiana in the village of Zerbi, burnt.
The Evangelical church in Zerbi, broken into and plundered.
The Friends of the Holy Bible Society in Fayoum, burnt.
The church of Mar-Girgis in Tamiya surrounded, and attempt to burn the house of the priest Fr Raphail Samy. The windows and part of the garden were burned.
The church of Amir Tadros in Dessia, burnt completely.
The church of St Michael in Kerdassa, burnt.
The bishopric church in Etfeeh, Giza, broken into and plundered.
The church of the Two Saints in Sol, Etfeeh, surrounded.
The church of the Holy Virgin in al-Saff, surrounded.
The church of the Holy Virgin in Kafr Hakeem, 6 October town, attacked with gunfire and stones.
The Greek church in Suez, burnt.
The Good Shepherd School in Suez, broken into and burnt.
The Fransiscan School in Suez, burnt.
The church of Mar-Girgis in Bakouss, attacked with gunfire.
The church of Anba Maximos on 45th Street, attacked with stones.
In North Sinai:
The church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Arish, burnt.
St Fatima Basilica in Cairo was subject to an unsuccessful attack
The church of the Holy Virgin in Ezbet al-Nakhl was attacked.
In Tanta in the mid-Delta, an attempt by Islamists to burn the church of the Holy Virgin was confronted by Muslim youth. The church was unscathed. Muslims also rescued the church of the Holy Virgin on Ahmed Esmat Street in Ain Shams, Cairo.
Many churches had to cancel prayer and social services for the sake of the security of the congregation. The Deir al-Adra (Convent of the Holy Virgin) on the Assiut western mountain, a spot visited by the Holy Family in the first century and today a pilgrimage destination for hundreds of thousands of people during the Fast of the Virgin, had to halve the annual celbrations, making htem one week instead of two.
In addition to the attacks against the Copts, their churches, businesses, and property; Egyptians were aghast at attempts by the Islamists to break into the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) in Alexandria and set it on fire. The BA security and staff confronted the assailants in the courtyard, and there was an exchange of gunfire. According to Khaled Azab, the BA’s media manager, the conference hall was plundered, and a number of acquisitions went missing. The glass façade was shattered.
An Islamist mob broke into the local museum in the town of Mallawi in Minya. The Sectretary-General of the Supreme Council for Antiquities Mustafa Amin said that some 1050 pieces of artefacts went missing from the museum, out of a total 1980 pieces. The pieces the mob did not rob, he said, are in the main part mummies and sarcophaguses; but these they damaged. Mr Amin warned that the Islamists’ next target once they’re done with the Copts would be the museums, since it was in their interest to ruin the national memory.
In Deir Muwass, Minya, the locals called Watani in horror to report that 30 armed Islamists broke into the local water treatment station and cut off the water supply to the nearby villages and towns, meaning that should a fire erupt there would be no water to put it off.
Among the buildings set on fire were the Giza governorate building, an aesthetic old chateau, and Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering, the third floor of which was completely lost to the fire. The mob burned three fire trucks that were in the premises of the Giza governorate, to make sure the fire would not be put out before it hadcaused substantial damage.
Condemnations and condolences
Condolences flowed in from Pope Francis of Rome, the Council of Egypt’s Churches, and the Patriarch Gregorius Lahham of the Greek Catholic Church in Antioch; also from the Prime Minister Hazam al-Biblawi who also pledged to attain peace and bring about justice.
Condemnations also flowed from the various political parties and civil society institutions, including the Union of Egypt’s Writers.
Coptic youth organisations—including the Maspero Youth Union, Copts Without Chains, The Coptic Consultant Council, and the Coptic Coalition—have all condemned the attacks against the Copts and the inadequate protection they were offered. The demanded security protection, and called upon Egypt’s Muslims to join in their defence. A statement they issued deplored the unprecedented mass attacks, and said it was a “disgrace in the history of Egypt that ruin to the tune of more than 50 Coptic owned churches, institutions, and homes was managed in the space of a mere 12 hours, on Wednesday.
Father Rafiq Greiche, spokesman of the Catholic Church in Egypt, strongly condemned the attacks against churches and Christians, saying that the Copts were made to pay the price for their participation in the revolution against the Islamist regime on 30 June. He demanded that the State should take a firm stance against the assailants.
Fr Rafiq announced that the Catholic Church has called off the celebrations of the feast of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin tomorrow.
Church in our hearts
The Coptic Catholic Pope Anba Boutros Fahim posted a ‘poem’ to comment on the attacks against the churches. “Why attack churches?” he wrote. “Churches never did any harm to anyone. But we will go on loving you, and will pray for you.”
Pope Tawadros put a comment on his Twitter account, in which he said that the walls or windows of churches did not matter; they were in the service of our Lord and Egypt. “Churches are inscribed in our hearts,” he said,
The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement in which it said it was closely following on the “lamentable situation” in Egypt today. The statement strongly condemned the “successive attacks against Egypt’s Christians, their churches, property and livelihoods,” and also the attacks against the Egyptian police and civilians. It called upon the Egyptian government and armed forces to defend Egyptians and maintain the unity of Egypt. It also called upon “our Muslim fellow Egyptians to stand against the vicious attack of places of worship which should never be part of any struggle.
“We pray to the One God we all worship for every Egyptian to be a shield to defend the homeland against terrorism and violence. We pray for peace and calm to reign over Egypt.”
Reported by Nader Shukry, Tereza Kamal, Basma William, Robeir al-Faris, Michael Victor, Samira Mazahy, Ra’fat Edward, Girgis Waheeb
16 August 2013