Egypt Burning: Violence Mounts Across the Country

More than 20 Churches have been Attacked across Egypt

8/14/2013 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that more than 20 churches have been attacked in the midst of the deadly violence that has swept across Egypt in the past few hours. The clashes, which have already claimed more than 100 lives and left nearly 1000 more wounded, prompted interim president Adly Mansour, to declare a nation-wide state of emergency, Ahram reported.

The attacks against Christians throughout the country have been staggering. Dozens of churches, schools, monasteries, stores, and homes have been attacked. “From the far north of Egypt to the far south, from the far east to the far west, all across the country Coptic Christians have come under attack today,” Ashraf Ramelah, president of the advocacy group Voice of the Copts, told ICC.

Fr. Ibram Tamesy, of the Church of Saint Mary and Anba Ibram in the village of Delga in the Minya province, told ICC that a mob broke into the church and looted the contents, including the food collected for the poor. Then they looted and burned the home of Fr. Angelos, who also serves at the church, and the homes of 17 other Christians in the village.

The loudspeaker systems from the mosques were being used to tell the Muslims to gather at Ebad El Rahman and defend Islam because many Muslims had been killed at the Rabba and El Nahda sit-in,” Fr. Tamesy said. The mob, further incensed after gathering went on to loot and set fire to the Monastery of St. Mary and its three churches, he reported. The Mar Mina church and a Baptist church, also in the Minya province, were burned in attacks by pro-Morsi supporters.

In the Sohag region, the churches of Mar Girgis, St. Mark, and St. Mary were set on fire by attackers. Emad Faheem, a Christian in Sohag, told ICC “Some Christian stores in Sohag City close to Mar Gigris Church were ransacked and destroyed by Muslims. Some cars owned by Christians were smashed also. The situation is so bad here,” he added.

In the city of Assiut, in Upper Egypt, the Catholic church of Saint Therese, the Archangel Michael’s church, and the Mar Girgis church were all attacked and set on fire. Ayman Ibrahim Abdel Malak, a Christian from Assiut, told ICC, “Muslims broke into the Bible Society and fully burned it.” They also attacked many other Christian shops in the city, he said.

The Good Shepherd Church, monastery, and Christian school were all set ablaze in Suez City. The Bible Society headquarters in Cairo were attacked. In Alexandria, the churches of Saint Maximus and Mar Girgis were burned. The crowd of Morsi supporters “burned the car of the Fr. Mosa and another car owned by a servant in the Church, and, after that, they broke into the Church and burned it and they were chanting Allah Akbar,” Wissa Fawzy, a Christian in Alexandria, told ICC.

The latest string of attacks began when the Egyptian security forces attempted to disperse pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo. As the BBC reports, “supporters of Mr. Morsi have been occupying Nahda Square and the Rabaa al-Adawiya site since he was ousted on 3 July. They want him reinstated.” Security forces moved in on the camps around 7 a.m. Dozens were killed in the clashes between security forces and protesters.

The violence quickly spread throughout the country, with the Copts on the receiving end of much of the violence. “I have said that Copts will pay a high price for freedom,” Ramelah told ICC. “We are still looking for the democracy that Egyptians have been dreaming about,” Ramelah said.

Todd Daniels, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The loss of life in Egypt today is terrible. ICC urges all sides to bring an immediate end to the violence and destruction that has affected so many Egyptians. The specific targeting of the Christian community has led to staggering losses. Security forces must commit to ensure the protection of the lives and properties of all Egyptians, especially its Christian community. The social and political leaders on all sides must immediately work to promote a spirit of inclusivity that will create an Egypt safe for individuals from all religions to live side-by-side.”

For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East: RM-ME@persecution.org

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