Tuesday 30 April 2024

Islamist Extremists Attack & Burn Christian Homes In Egypt

 Islamist extremists reportedly set fire to several Christian houses and businesses in southern Egypt last week.

The violence broke out on Tuesday night in the village of Al-Fawakher, which is home to about 3,000 Christian families. The local Christian community had recently received a permit to construct a new church building, prompting backlash from some Muslim hardliners.

“The attacks are believed to have been triggered by an attempt to build a new church in Al-Fawakher village in Minya [province],” one local source, who asked to remain anonymous, told The New Arab. “When religious fanatics failed to expel Christians from their homes as a form of punishment, the extremists [reportedly] burned down their houses while they were still inside.”

Video circulating on social media appears to show crowds of people dancing and celebrating in front of the burning buildings.

“The extremists attacked Coptic homes with stones and chants, and a number of homes were set on fire, amid the screams of women and children,” Copts United, a religious advocacy group, reported. “The attack continued for a long time before the security forces arrived.”

“Security forces arrived and brought the situation under control, arresting the instigators and perpetrators,” Coptic Bishop Anba Macarius said in a public statement on Wednesday: “State agencies will compensate those affected and hold the perpetrators accountable.Calm prevails in the village now. May God protect our dear country, Egypt, from all harm.”

Christians have long been a persecuted minority in Egypt. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is illegal and Christians are barred from holding certain public offices, and terror  attacks  against  churches  and religious  minorities  are  fairly  common. Minya province in particular has been a hotbed of violence, with at least 77 incidents recorded between 2011-2016, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

According to Copts United, a similar attack took place on Friday in the village of Al-Kom Al-Ahmar, after a local Evangelical group was given permission to build a church there.

Bishop Macarius himself survived an assassination attempt in 2013.

The exact number of Christians within the country is contested, and the officially Islamic Egyptian government has been accused of trying to downplay the size of its Christian minority – estimates range anywhere from 5-15% of the country’s 111 million people, although it is generally agreed that the share is shrinking – likely as a result of conversion, migration, or lower fertility rates compared to Egypt’s Muslim majority.

The majority of Egypt’s Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which claims descent from the Patriarchate of Alexandria, one of the 5 major centers of early Christianity, alongside Rome, Constantinople, Antioch and Jerusalem. The Coptic Church broke away from what would become the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches in 451 AD after the Council of Chalcedon, over theological differences, and remained the dominant religion in Egypt until the country was conquered in 641 by Muhammed’s immediate successors in the Rashidun (“rightly guided”) Caliphate.

Egypt is also home to hundreds of thousands of Eastern Orthodox Christians, Protestants and Catholics.

“An unacceptable culture of intimidation and discrimination is still far too prevalent in this region despite positive steps taken by the Egyptian authorities in recent years, and the personal commitment of President Sisi to fight sectarian extremism and promote equality of citizenship,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide President Mervyn Thomas said in a press statement. “Egyptian citizens should all be free to practice any religion or belief of their choosing without fear of threats or physical violence.”

Post a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search