Christian Community in Upper Egypt Remains Vulnerable to Mob Violence
11/29/2016 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern): International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 25, 2016, a mob of enraged Muslim radicals attacked Coptic properties and homes in Manshiet El-Naghamish village located in the Sohag Governorate of Egypt. The attack was incited when rumors of a church being constructed spread among the community’s Muslim population.
More than 2,000 Coptic Christians live in El-Naghamish with the nearest church being over three miles away in the neighboring Al-Kosheh village. When Christian villagers in El-Naghamish built a four-story building to be used as a community center, preschool, and retirement home, Muslims in the nearby vicinity assumed that the building would become a church. The Christians of El-Naghamish have, in fact, applied for a permit to build a church, but are still awaiting approval from the government.
According to local sources, when the bishop of El-Balyana and Al-Koshe was asked to preside over a prayer meeting on November 22, Muslim villagers became more upset. On Thursday evening, November 24, leaflets calling on local Muslims to gather and attack the Christian community the following day were distributed.
“On Friday [at] noon, November 25, following the Muslim prayers, a great deal of fanatic Muslim young men, some of them were carrying gas canisters and rocks while others came armed with automatic rifles, clubs, machetes and knives, they attacked Copts and Coptic-owned houses,” Samir Nashed, a Christian resident of El-Naghamish, told ICC.
The attack resulted in four Copts being injured, the total destruction of a Christian-owned guesthouse, the destruction of nine Coptic homes, and the looting and burning of four Coptic-owned shops.
“The attackers cut [off] the road so that the fire trucks could not enter the village; they also cut off the water and power supply to the village,” Nashed explained to ICC.
After police gained control of the situation, they arrested 18 Muslims involved in the attack. The Governor of Sohag and the Chief of Security of Sohag visited the scene and held a reconciliation session between the two communities.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We are shocked at the news of yet another attack against Christians incited by rumors of church construction. ICC mourns with the families who have lost their homes and businesses due to these hate crimes. This is the latest in a long string of similar attacks, and we are impatient to see proper justice served. The Egyptian government must do more to secure the lives and properties of all citizens, including Christians.”