Coptic Christians Hospitalized, Homes Attacked, Families Flee Village After Attack Over Land Dispute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
09/23/2015 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Christians of El Oula village, El Amerya district, Alexandria have been under attack since Sunday. At least two Christians have been hospitalized in critical condition after suffering serious injuries, and four homes have been attacked.
On Sunday, September 20, police from El Amerya attempted to execute the court order to return land owned by the Makanouti family that had been seized by another family in the village, Mousa Zarif, a nephew of the owner of the land told ICC.
When police approached the land in question, a group of armed men confronted the police and opened fire. At least one of the assailants was fatally wounded by the security forces, but they drove the security forces away.
“After the security forces left the area, they attacked our homes but our moderate Muslim neighbours intervened and protected us from them,” Zarif said.
Father Boktor Nashed, priest of the Mar Girgis church in El Amerya district, told ICC, “After the security forces left, a large crowd surrounded [the] church and hurled stones at it. They then attacked four homes owned by Christians; they attacked a Christian man named Demian Maher resulting in the breaking of his spine. ” Fr. Boktor continued.
The story goes back to 2012, when the El Houty took over land belonging to a wealthy Christian named Hamdy Makanouti. He first tried to regain the land through a mediator between him and the El Houty family. This course of action failed, so he pursued the case through formal channels. The court then determined that the possession of the land belonged to him as the rightful owner of the land.
The police first tried to execute the court order in 2014 but was unable to because of the violent resistance they got from El Houty family at the time. “The El Houty family used the microphones in the local mosque and in nearby villages to call out for the Muslims from everywhere around the village saying that the police have come to take their lands and give it to the Christians,” Zarif told ICC.
In addition to the spinal injury suffered by Mr. Maher, a Christian woman Therese Hanna has suffered a serious head injury that has placed her in the hospital.
Father Boktor told ICC, “Many families have left the village fearing for their safety in this volatile situation; there is a strong feeling of terror and fear among the Christian families here.”
Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East said, “This latest incident of violence highlights once again the vulnerable situation that many Christians in Egypt face. It has now been nearly two years since the courts determined that the land should be returned and still this family faces violence as they attempt to regain their land. Egypt should act to protect the basic rights of all of its citizens. We urge the local security forces to act swiftly to bring security and to ensure that those guilty of these attacks are brought to justice.”
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