Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

A dozen dead and hundreds wounded in latest attack on Egypt’s Copts 

ICC Note:

“We don’t talk—the church screams for itself. 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.”

By Mindy Belz

5/11/2011 Egypt (World Magazine) – A weekend attack in Egypt on two Christian churches plus surrounding homes and businesses has killed at least 12 and wounded more than 200, according to eyewitnesses. Attackers also burned one of the churches, the Virgin Mary Church, leaving most of its five stories gutted.

The attacks took place May 7 in a northern district of Cairo once nicknamed “the Islamic Republic of Imbaba.” Witnesses said that Salafist extremists, many of them from outside the city carried out the attacks, and some Salafist leaders acknowledged involvement.

“We don’t talk—the church screams for itself,” the head priest of the Virgin Mary Church, Mittias Illas, 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.”

The violence broke out as reports began circulating via the internet that a woman named Abeer Talaat, an alleged convert from Christianity to Islam, was being held against her will in one of the churches. Mobs descended on Imbaba, a poor neighborhood on the northern outskirts of Cairo, last Saturday. By evening swelling crowds of Muslims marched Imbaba’s streets, chanting Islamic slogans and shouting Osama bin Laden’s name, according to a victim of the violence who spoke to Compass Direct.

Egypt, with more than 10 million mostly Coptic Christians (the oldest church in Egypt) and more than 3 million evangelicals, has the largest Christian population in the Middle East. But it is increasingly the target of Islamic militants known as Salafists.

The Salafists, a Wahhabi-based sect from Saudi Arabia similar in ideology to Osama bin Laden, believe that most contemporary Muslims follow a corrupted version of Islam and should adhere to practices from the first three generations of Islam called the Salaf. Male followers grow full beards and women wear full-face veils. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak denounced Salafists, who often went against the teaching of the state-run Al-Azhar University. But unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, which always stood in opposition to Mubarak, Salafists have been reluctant to form political parties and engage in public life. That’s changing in the post-Mubarak era.

Observers believe that Salafists, along with the Muslim Brotherhood, could play a significant role in the formation of Egypt’s new government. Amr Moussa, the outgoing head of the Arab League and the lead candidate in Egypt’s presidential race, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published May 6 that he believes September elections will usher in a legislature led by a bloc of Islamists with the Brotherhood at the forefront. Moussa, 74, has headed the Arab League since 2001 and is scheduled to step down May 15.

[Full Story]