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Angry mob bars church goers in Beni Suef

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Over the past year, an increasing number of sectarian-related incidents of violence have taken place

Two Copts were injured as a result of violence brought about by the predominantly conservative Muslim crowd barring the entrance. (KHALED DESOUKI/ AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES)

Two Copts were injured as a result of violence brought about by the predominantly conservative Muslim crowd barring the entrance. (KHALED DESOUKI/ AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES)

A large mob in the village of Ezbet Marco, in the Beni Suef governorate, gathered around the only Coptic Church in the area on Sunday morning, forbidding Copts from neighbouring villages from entering the church.

According to Ishak Ibrahim, a journalist and researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, two Copts were injured as a result of violence brought about by the predominantly conservative Muslim crowd barring the entrance.

As the church is the only church in the area, it is very hard for Copts in neighbouring villages to pray elsewhere. As the mob maintained their blockade of the church skirmishes occurred, and two Copts identified by Ibrahim as Sobhi Saleh and Ibrahim Sadeq reportedly suffered from fractured arms and feet. Cars were also damaged in the scuffle.

“During Ramadan priests and Copts from Ezbet Marco were asked to not allow Copts from outside the village to pray in the church because the Muslims in the area believe they dress inappropriately,” Ibrahim added. The women’s attire does not conform to traditional dress.

The police surrounded the church to protect it from being attacked and, according to eyewitnesses that had spoken to Ibrahim, managed to diffuse the situation and arrest some people suspected of participating in the mob.

“This is not only a problem in this village,” Ibrahim said. “It is a big problem across Egypt.” Two months ago, in the Al-Amareya district in Alexandria, Muslims demanded the local church refuse to receive Christians from outside the village. “What can the people do,” Ibrahim said. “They don’t have [a] church in their area and therefore must go to nearby villages that do have one.”

Ibrahim asserts that it is the right of every citizen in Egypt to be allowed to have faith and practice what he or she believes. “The state in turn has the duty to protect them and their right to practice their beliefs,” he said. The rhetoric offered by the government, according to Ibrahim, is that there are not enough Christians in such areas to justify the construction of new churches and so the Copts from surrounding villages have no other choice than to make the journey to the neighbouring villages.

Ibrahim demanded the government and President Mohamed Morsy work to resolve the issue surrounding church building, in order to allow Christians to build their places of worship with the same rights as Muslims.

Currently mosques may be built virtually anywhere and with little interference from the government, but Copts require written permission from the government before they are allowed to build, and are often met with a rejection.

About the author

Luiz Sanchez

Luiz Sanchez

Journalist

Luiz is a Brazilian journalist in Cairo @luizdaVeiga

  • Christian DH

    The Egyptian Muslims have no shame when it comes to their religious minorities. After their brutal struggle for liberation, the country had an opportunity to rise above their neighboring states. As the majority population, Egyptian Muslims have been given the ability to chart their course into the future.

    So how do they use their precious gift of liberty? They turn on their minorities with an ugliness that’s fast becoming their trademark. The minority Christian Copts wish to live their lives as examples of love, sacrifice and foregiveness. The God we Christians worship is one that declares loving our enemies and neighbors as second only to loving God. Why are the Muslims always so angry? Why are they so easily brought to the level of mayham and murder?

    Morsi’s claim that the government will protect their religious minorities is a hollow gesture. Government security, police, and military forces do what their government tells them to do, which in this case is to do nothing.

    So what do we do now? Morsi does not have the answer anymore than Obama, as Barak has demonstrated over these past four years. What we can do is pray for the persecuted Copts and their Muslim assailants. Egyptian Muslims and Christians can pray for an end to violence in their country.

  • Pingback: Egypt: Muslim mob bars Christians from entering church » Choosing Life - God's Gift To The Unborn


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