In the days since the removal of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi Egypt’s Coptic Christian community has repeatedly been attacked by pro-Morsi supporters. This report highlights the blatant disregard that was shown by security forces during an attack that took the lives of four men, injured others, and destroyed multiple houses. Throughout the attack security forces did little to quell the violence and the consequences were tragic.
7/23/2013 Egypt (Amnesty International) – Security forces stood by and failed to intervene during a brutal attack on Coptic Christians in Luxor, Amnesty International said in a briefing published today. During the sectarian violence, security forces left six besieged men –four of whom were then killed and one hospitalized – to the mercy of an angry crowd.
In an attack lasting 18 hours on 5 July, four Coptic Christian men were killed and four others were seriously injured. An angry mob armed with metal bars, knives, tree branches and hammers attacked Christian homes and businesses in Nagah Hassan, 18 km west of Luxor, after the dead body of a Muslim man was discovered near the homes of Christian families. Despite local residents’ and religious leaders’ repeated calls for help, security forces on the scene made only half-hearted attempts to end the violence and sufficient reinforcements failed to arrive.
“It is outrageous that this attack was left to escalate unhindered in this way. Amnesty International has documented a series of cases in the past where Egypt’s security forces used unnecessary force or live fire during demonstrations, yet in this case they held back even though people’s lives were threatened,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“A thorough, impartial and independent investigation must be conducted into the events in Luxor and the grossly inadequate response of the security forces to the attack.”
The violence began at 3am, shortly after the Muslim man was found dead in the vicinity of Christian homes. His family blamed the death on a local Coptic Christian. By mid-day more than 100 Christian homes had been attacked, with scores of them looted or torched. Local residents reported calling the police and army’s hotlines throughout the day in vain. Local religious leaders also approached other security officials.
“The attack went on for 18 hours, and there was not a door on which I did not knock: police, army, local leaders, the Central Security Forces, the Governorate. Nothing was done,” said Father Barsilious, a local priest from Dab’iya.