Egyptian Court Sentences Copt to Prison, Large Fine, Over Unlicensed Church
A Giza misdemeanor court has sentenced Eid Attia Ibrahim, a Coptic Christian charged with turning a building into an unlicensed church, to one year in prison and a fine of 360 thousand EGP. In December 2017, a mob attacked the church after a rumor spread that a bell would be placed on the church. Christians had been allowed to pray in the building since 2002. Members of the mob who attacked the church were sentenced to 500 EGP. Church registration laws and mob attacks against churches are a frequent source of persecution in Egypt. Although the authorities claim that they are working on resolving church registration issues, the reality is that on the ground, Christians continue to be unfairly targeted by officials and the officials give them no opportunity for fair judicial treatment.
02/01/2018 Egypt (Reuters) – An Egyptian court on Wednesday gave 15 people one-year suspended jail sentences over a December attack on an unlicensed Coptic Church in a village south of Cairo, judicial sources said.
The perpetrators were each fined 500 Egyptian pounds ($28) on charges of inciting sectarian strife, harming national unity and vandalising private property. They can appeal.
The Giza misdemeanour court also fined the owner of the building, a Christian man, 360,000 Egyptian pounds ($20,500) for turning his residency into a church without a licence.
Dozens of Muslims from the village of Kafr al-Waslin attacked the church after Friday prayers on Dec. 22, smashing windows and breaking everything inside.
The Archdiocese of Atfih had applied to legalize the church, which housed worshippers for 15 years after a church building law was passed in 2016.
Christians in Egypt have long complained of discrimination in the majority-Muslim country and have increasingly come under attack in recent years.
Egyptian authorities are also battling a stubborn Islamist insurgency, mostly concentrated in the remote Sinai Peninsula, which has claimed several attacks on Egypt’s large Christian minority.
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