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09/24/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) –   The village of Demshaw Hashem suffered an attack at the end of August which targeted Christians because Islamic hardliners did not want an official church in the village. In response, security forces closed the church. An elderly congregant died shortly after, forcing Christians to hold funeral rites in the street since they no longer had access to a place of worship.

Christians in Demshaw have refused to attend a reconciliation session, citing how these sessions encourage the absence of law and allow them to be further victimized by their attackers. The authorities have recently decided to further detain twenty-one individuals for fifteen days pending an investigation into the attack.

It is common for the authorities to encourage reconciliation sessions, which operate outside the law, rather than follow a judicial process following attacks. The General Bishop of Minya and Abu Qirqas has petitioned President Sisi for assistance in resolving the Demshaw incident.

Under Sisi’s leadership, Christians have been promised that their churches will have a pathway to legalization and their civil rights protected. The reality, however, is far different. Even the mere threat by Islamic hardliners of attacking a church is enough to close it indefinitely. Government officials are sometimes complicit in encouraging violence against churches, as the recent incident in Beni Suef demonstrates.

For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]