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Sunday in Minya’s ruined churches

Tereza Hanna

20 Aug 2013 6:14 pm

A distraught Father Silwanis Lutfy of the monastery of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am in Dalga, Minya, in Upper Egypt, told Watani that this was the first time in the 1600 years-lifetime of the monastery that Holy Mass is not held on Sunday

A distraught Father Silwanis Lutfy of the monastery of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am in Dalga, Minya, in Upper Egypt, told Watani that this was the first time in the 1600 years-lifetime of the monastery that Holy Mass is not held on Sunday. 
Fr Silwanis was referring to the 4th-century church attacked by Islamists last Wednesday during the rampage they waged against the Copts, their churches, homes, shops, and businesses; and also against police stations and Egyptian public institutions. The rampage, which is tapering off but has not ended, came in retaliation to the police breakup of the six-week long Islamist sit-ins which spearheaded violence against Egyptian civilians and police.
The Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am’s is not a ‘monastery’ in the conventional sense; it is a conglomerate which includes three churches—among them the 4th-century church—and several buildings used for health and social services for the congregation. The churches and six buildings were completely burned and plundered by the Islamists who then proceeded to use the grounds as a marketplace for fruit, vegetables, and farm animals. On the outer walls they wrote: “Donate money to build a mosque here”.
Underneath the 4th-century church, the Islamists are excavating for antiquities.
In other parts of Minya, churches held Mass only once on Sunday—Egyptian churches usually hold Mass twice every Sunday. The members of the congregation who attended were few and, deeply grieved at the plight of their churches and fellow Copts, they prayed for peace in Egypt. In the churches of Amir Tadros and Anba Moussa al-Aswad, both of which were totally destroyed, Mass was held on mobile altars inside marquees set up in the courtyards. 
Small numbers of people visited the ruined churches and said individual prayers.
On Sunday, the Mar-Girgis and Abu Seifein church in Maghagha was attacked, looted and burned. Two schools owned by the Maghagha bishopric in Minya were attacked and looted. Two microbuses and two safe boxes which included the employees’ bonuses were stolen, in addition to 40 computers and furniture of both schools.
Eyewitnesses told Watani that the Coptic houses which had been plundered and burnt were quickly abandoned by their owners who ran for their lives. The Islamist Mursi supporters have seized these houses and even inscribed their names on the doors. 
Many residents of Minya find it difficult to file reports with the police, since the police itself has been targeted; police officers and personnel are being brutally assaulted and police stations torched.
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Watani International
20 August 2013


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