Update on seven killed in Church shooting in Egypt
1/19/2010 Egypt (MEC) – In January we requested prayer following a shooting incident on 6th January outside a church in Nag Hammadi, southern Egypt, in which six Christians and a Muslim were killed, and a number of others wounded.
The three suspected perpetrators were arrested and subsequently charged with premeditated murder, putting the life of citizens in danger and damage to public and private property. They appeared in court on 13th February and pleaded not-guilty to all charges. Their lawyers asked for more time to study the case, prompting the judge to curtail the hearing. He then scheduled the second hearing for 20th March.
Recall that In the days following the attack, Christian and Muslim mobs
demonstrated in several towns in Qena province. Some demonstrations turned violent, causing damage to homes and businesses. When the police intervened the rioters were simply told to cease their violence and go home. However, subsequently, several local teenagers, both Christian and Muslim, were arrested, apparently in response to complaints from local citizens and in the media that not enough had been done to prevent and to stop the violence.
Church leaders believe that the Christian teenagers will be released only
when they drop their complaints, noting that in recent years, the
authorities have pressed Christian leaders to drop complaints in return for
“peace”, i.e. peaceful co-existence. However, to drop complaints effectively grants impunity to the perpetrators of violence, encouraging further incidents. The bishop has long been outspoken against discrimination in the local administration.
Also underway, in the same province, is the trial of a Christian man,
Girgis, accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year old Muslim girl in November 2009. His defence lawyer was forced to withdraw shortly before the first hearing on 17th January. No local lawyer would take the case, so two Christian lawyers travelled nearly 600 kilometres (370 miles) from Cairo to represent the defendant. They have pointed out large discrepancies between the initial police reports and the final court submissions. They argue that there is no evidence of Girgis’ involvement other than the word of the young girl. No forensic reports have been made available to the defence. The trial is exacerbating sectarian tensions in the area.
The authorities have implicitly acknowledged a link between the alleged rape and the murders, claiming they view the murders as a revenge attack following the rape. However, they have refused to consider the murders as a sectarian incident. They regard the murders as individual crimes, rejecting calls to acknowledge wider sectarian tensions.
Egyptian Christians request our continued prayers that:
a. The bereaved will know the comfort of Jesus
b. The wounded and traumatised will know the healing touch of Jesus
c. The trial of those accused of the 6th January shooting will be conducted with due process
d. Girgis’ trial will be conducted with all due process and defence lawyers be allowed unhindered access to the case
e. Christian leaders throughout Egypt will know the presence of Jesus, and the Spirit’s wisdom in all dealings with the authorities
f. All perpetrators of violence will be convicted by the Spirit, and seek
the forgiveness and new life of the Son
g. The authorities will acknowledge and undertake effective action to
address sectarian violence