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07/14/2022 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – After a church in Egypt, the Church of Michael the Archangel, received formal legal recognition last month, outraged Muslim mobs attacked the homes of many local Coptic Christians. The perpetrators, who targeted the Christian homes on June 23, amassed into large crowds and began hurling rocks through the windows of the homes. Buildings and vehicles sustained significant damage from the stones and fires set by arsonists. Reportedly, local authorities assigned a security force to protect the church, but it was overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the mob.

The church which provoked the ire of this local Muslim community was initially built in 2003, and local Christians have awaited the church’s official legal approval for many years. Throughout the process, Muslims in the area have rejected the legitimacy of the new church, asserting that the construction or restoration of a church contradicts Islamic law. The Conditions of Omar, thought to have been written by Caliph Omar I, is one Islamic text they refer to. The text dictates that no churches should ever be built or repaired and that Christians must make do with preexisting churches only. The recent attack, reacting to the church’s official legalization via a decree signed by Egypt’s Prime Minister, is wholly predictable in this context of stubborn Muslim opposition.

In response to the recent attacks, local police increased their presence in the village, anticipating continual outrage among Muslims, many motivated by the encouragement of their imams. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of Muslims against Church constructions or repairs is common in Egypt. This conflict follows an oft-repeated pattern: a church is developed, and Muslims riot. Muslim protests are often also successful, and authorities bow to the pressure of the majority. As a result, Christian communities and churches are suppressed. This is one of the many ways the Muslim majority persecutes Christians in Egypt.

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