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Egypt: Angered over approval for a new church, Islamists set fire to houses of Coptic Christians, hundreds of villagers attacked

Reports state that the local Islamists had recently responded adversely to the Coptic community getting approval to erect a new church.

In Egypt’s southern Minya province, several houses of local Coptic Christians were set on fire on the 23rd of April by local Muslims over the construction of a new church.

The incident unfolded in the Minya Province village of Al-Fawakher, which is home to some 3,000 Christian families who follow the Coptic Orthodox Church. Reports state that the local Islamists had recently responded adversely to the Coptic community getting approval to erect a new church.

Speaking to The Arab News, a source said: “The attacks are believed to have been triggered by an attempt to build a new church in Al-Fawakher village. The report further states that when “religious fanatics failed to expel Christians from their homes as punishment,” they “burned down their houses while they were still inside.”

Social media users shared videos of mobs celebrating in front of burning buildings. According to the advocacy group Copts United, “extremists attacked Coptic homes with stones and chants, and a number were set on fire, amid the screams of women and children.” It further stated that after the attacks started, security personnel did not arrive at the spot for “a long time”.

Coptic Bishop Anba Macarius said in a statement on 24th April that “security forces arrived and brought the situation under control, arresting the instigators. The state agencies will compensate those affected and hold the perpetrators accountable,” stating that “calm prevails in the village now.”

The burning down of Christian houses is the latest instance of sectarian violence directed at Egypt’s minority of Coptic Christians, who have long been persecuted and subject to legal discrimination. It is against the law to convert from Islam, Christians are not allowed to hold high positions, and terror attacks on churches are common, especially in Minya.

According to Copts United, a similar attack over church construction took place in another village on Friday. The government of Egypt has been accused of underestimating the number of Christians in the 111 million-person nation—between 5 and 15%. The majority are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which has its origins in the early church.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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