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ICC Note:

Church closures are routine in Egypt, and in Minya Provence Christians are especially denied access to buildings where they can worship. Although the government did change church building laws, it is still a restriction on church building. Even simple repairs on an existing church can lead to difficulties with local authorities, who often close a church citing vague security concerns. There is much work to be done in Egypt to secure the religious freedom of the country’s Christians, who are at risk of persecution for no other reason than their faith.

 

11/05/2017 Egypt (Fox News) – Egypt has been one of the worst places for Christian persecution in recent months. A series of attacks targeting Christians and forced closure of churches have caused Egypt’s Christian population to call on authorities for help.

The Minya Coptic Orthodox Diocese said authorities sealed off two churches in the southern province, citing harassment and attacks by extremists. A third was closed because of fear of attacks. The statement was issued late Saturday.

It said clashes broke out Friday when ultraconservative Muslims tried to attack one of the churches, adding that a Coptic woman was wounded. Later that day, the mob attacked Christian homes, the statement said.

“We have kept quiet for two weeks … but the situation has worsened. It seems as if prayer is a crime the Copts should be punished for,” the statement said, referring to the repeated closure of the churches.

The diocese urged authorities to end discrimination against Christians and “not to succumb to the fundamentalists.”

Minya Governor Essam Badawi denied the churches were closed for security reasons, saying they were “unlicensed houses” that lacked the documentation needed to “perform religious rites.”

However, he confirmed there were two attacks on the houses of worship and that 15 people were arrested. He said police are searching for 11 other suspects.

He said 21 churches in Minya are still open for services.

According to the International Christian Concern, a separate clash broke out on October 27, when a Muslim mob formed in the village of Exbat, following noontime prayer services and attacked St. George’s Church and other buildings owned by Christians. Security officials responded, thereby, closing the church.

“Following the Friday prayer, many Muslims gathered into a mob and began to attack us,” Sobhi, a Christian resident in Ezbat Zakaria, said in a statement to ICC, which was provided to Fox News. “They threw stones at our homes resulting in breaking the doors and windows of some houses, injuring a Coptic woman … they set three stables owned by Copts on fire. They then headed to the church (the building services) and tried to attack it, but the security guards who were assigned confronted them and prevented them from approaching the church.”

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