A group of about 500 Muslim youth tore down a Christian social centre in a Fayoum village on Tuesday believing the building would be converted into a church.
“About 500 youth turned up at the building site so I called the deputy commissioner at the Tamia police station and informed him of the situation before it was torn down but he ignored me,” said Armia Shawqi, the Fanous village priest.
Shawqi said he kept trying to reach the deputy commissioner for a further three hours in an effort to stop clashes between Muslims and Christians but received no response. He added that the deputy commissioner arrived on the scene only after the building had been taken down.
“I also called the village mayor but he did not interfere to stop the demolition,” he said. Shawqi filed a complaint but no one has been arrested yet.
Construction had begun two months ago on the 100-metre plot of land for a Christian centre and events hall. The association behind it had obtained the required licences from the authorities according to Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights researcher Ishak Ibrahim.
The building serves around three thousand Christians from five villages in the area.