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Romani Hakim

Romani Hakim, a 19-year-old Coptic Christian, was murdered near his home by Salafists, a radical Islamist group, in Imbaba, Cairo on May 7, 2011. Twelve people were killed, more than 200 were injured, and two churches and numerous Coptic-owned homes and businesses were attacked in the day’s violence which targeted Egypt’s Christian community. An ICC representative visited Romani’s mother at her home.

Romani's mother

August 29, 2011

Imbaba Attack

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A radical mob throws a Coptic family’s furniture from the rooftop of their home near St. Mina Church in Imbaba, Cairo on May 7, 2011. A number of Coptic-owned homes and businesses were attacked and one church was burned to the ground.12 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded from the day’s violence.

In this video, a radical Islamist mob, known as Salafists, storm into Virgin Mary Church in Cairo before setting the building on fire. The video captures the mob breaking windows and destroying furniture. Notice that one person is clearly holding a pistol before heading upstairs where Coptic Christians are hiding. At least 12 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in the May 7th attack. In all, two churches and surrounding Coptic-owned homes were targeted by the extremists.

Virgin Mary Church was set ablaze on May 7 by a radical mob. At least 12 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in attacks that day that targeted two churches and a number of Coptic owned apartments.

“We don’t talk — the church screams for itself,” Rev. Mittias Ilias, head priest of the Virgin Mary Church in Imbaba, told Compass Direct News. “The church has five floors, and there is no space where the fire didn’t reach. The floors, the ceiling, the pillars, the church box, the chairs, the icons, all of it — everything was burned. Just give me one reason for all that. There is no reason for all that, nothing.”

A Bible found in Virgin Mary Church just after the fire was put out

More burned Christian literature found in Virgin Mary Church

On May 7, twelve people were killed and more than 200 were wounded when radical Islamists attacked two churches in the poor Cairo district of Imbaba.

Muslim protestors had gathered outside of St. Mina Church to demand the release of two women who had allegedly converted to Islam and were being detained against their will. As the protest ensued, Copts barricaded the church from the inside with pews and other furniture. Reportedly, the Islamists were armed and threw Molotov cocktails at the church.

Unable to push through the barricade, Islamists broke into Virgin Mary Church, a ten minute walk from St. Mina, and lit it on fire. “Islamists killed one guy in the church by slitting his throat. Most of the people killed were inside, and then they torched the church,” an eyewitness told ICC.

A week prior to the attack, 2,000 Islamists protested outside of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo demanding the release of the same two women. At that time, ICC began receiving reports that a larger and more violent demonstration was being plotted. Despite having ample warning, the Egyptian military neglected to increase security at Coptic churches. During the attack on May 7, security forces were unprepared, raising concerns that they may be influenced by or allied with radical Islamists. “Many are voicing sharp criticism of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and its transitional cabinet, accusing them of failing to apply the law so far as radicals are concerned,” the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported.

Coptic Christians believe that Salafis, also known as Wahhabis, were responsible for the attack. Last weekend, 50,000 Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood members held a joint rally in Giza, chanting slogans of unity and support for an Islamic state. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party is the most organized and financed contender in Egypt’s September elections. Many predict that Islamists will win the majority seat in parliament, including presidential candidate and nationalist Amr Moussa. “Mr. Moussa… described a political landscape in which the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed under Mr. Mubarak, is dominant. It is inevitable, he said, that parliamentary elections in September will usher in a legislature led by a bloc of Islamists, with the Brotherhood at the forefront,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

There is no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis are allied,” said Wagih Yacoub, a Coptic human rights activist. “The Brotherhood plays politics and the Salafis are causing chaos so they can empty Egypt of Christians and make it an Islamic state. Lots of Egyptian people, including moderate Muslims, are worried. If Egypt becomes an Islamic state, it may mean civil war. We won’t get protection from the military council or the police forces. Our homes will be attacked at any minute, any time. Lots of people are scared. How will we protect ourselves? There will be bloodshed.”

Click here to read a detailed account by Compass Direct News