In a large, celebratory public gathering at the Minya village of Beni-Ahmed this morning, a conciliation was announced between village Muslims and Copts. Participating in the gathering were the local politicians, security authority chiefs, elders of the village, as well as Muslim and Coptic clergy
In a large, celebratory public gathering at the Minya village of Beni-Ahmed this morning, a conciliation was announced between village Muslims and Copts. Participating in the gathering were the local politicians, security authority chiefs, elders of the village, as well as Muslim and Coptic clergy.
Beni-Ahmed had been the scene of an attack by Islamists against the Copts last week, which left in its wake seven houses, 24 shops, and nine vehicles—all Coptic-owned—ruined and burnt.
The violence was a result of a fight which broke out between an Islamist—Islamists are against the military for its part in supporting the mass demonstrations that led to the Mursi ouster—and two Copts at a coffee shop, as they watched a popular song on TV that praised the army. Even though the fight was contained by the other guests at the coffee shop, the Islamist left and returned later with a mob from neighbouring villages who attacked the Copts, their homes, property, and businesses. Since Beni-Ahmed is a majority Coptic population village, the Islamist had to rally other Islamists from nearby villages to wage an attack; this he did by circulating a rumour that Beni-Ahmed Copts had burned a local mosque.
The rampage, which went on for two days, on Saturday 3 August and the following Monday, was finally contained by the police which then caught persons it claimed were suspects, Muslims and Copts. Some eight Copts and 17 Muslims were caught, which brought on an outcry from the Copts against the policy of “balancing accounts” used by the prosecution, in which Copts are prosecuted simply so that Muslims alone would not be prosecuted. The lawyer Ibrahim Edward said that the Copts were attacked inside their homes by armed men who noisily declared their intention of killing the Copts and ruining their livelihoods. Many Copts were injured in the process, and lost homes, shops and vehicles, Edward said. “So now they are the culprits?!”
Until yesterday, the Copts persisted in rejecting attempts at ‘conciliation’ with the offenders; conciliation, a traditional move applied by local communities to bring about peace following violent incidents, implicitly means that the victims give up all legal rights. Today, however, they agreed to the conciliation, in order to free the innocent Copts who had been caught. The move to detain Copts is an old ploy used for years by the security authorities to pressure Copts into ‘conciliating’, thus relinquishing their rights.
Minya Bishopric opened a bank account for donations to help the victims restart their livelihoods. The bank account number is in the name of Anba Arsanius, Bishop of Minya and Abu-Qurqas, number: 01010101850 at al-Ahli Bank, Minya branch.
11 August 2013
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