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ICC Note: The police have arrested at least 90 Islamic hardliners from various villages who formed a mob and attacked Christian homes in the village of Menbal. The mob was collectively punishing the community following the arrest of one Christian who was charged with insulting Islam. The situation remains tense, and some locals report that a reconciliation session is likely. They are fearful that the extremists will force the Christian’s family to leave the village.

07/15/2018 Egypt (Wataninet) –  The 40-year-old Copt Abdu Adel Ayad from the village of Menbal in Mattai, Minya some 250km south of Cairo, who was detained by the police on Friday 6 July for disdaining Islam, has had his detention extended 15 days by the prosecution, pending investigation.

The police has also caught more than 90 Muslims in Menbal, and charged them with mobbing, attacking Copts’ homes, inciting sedition and attacking the police.

The incident goes back to 6 July when Ayad was arrested in the wake of a complaint filed with the police against him, claiming he has disdained Islam by posting a link on his Facebook page to an article that allegedly disdains Islam through a comparison between religions.

On 9 July, a mob of village Muslims attacked the Copts’ houses, shouting Allah Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) and hurling stones at the houses.

The attack came as collective punishment against the Copts, even though Mr Ayad was already under arrest, and the Church and local Coptic community had announced they were against disdain of religion. Yet Menbal’s fundamentalist Muslims succeeded in inciting the village Muslims against the Copts.

Local eyewitnesses told Watani that the police quickly arrived, cordoned off the Coptic area, and brought the situation under control. The Copts kept to their homes in terror. “We spent a painful evening we shall never forget,” one Menbal Copt who asked to remain unnamed, told Watani. “An evening of terror.”

To date the police is cordoning off the Coptic quarter in the village and tightening security around the houses of the Ayads.

Ayad is a poor Copt who works as arabni, the man who bakes orban (host bread) at church.

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For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org