For the fourth time in weeks, Christians were attacked in Egypt by a Muslim mob after rumors circulated that a Christian house that was being built was going to be turned into a church.
During the attack, which occurred on July 22 in Saft AL-Kharsa village in the Beni Suef governorate, four houses owned by Christians were looted and destroyed.
Two days prior to the attack, the owner of the house that was under construction was called in for questioning by security forces. After an investigation confirmed that the owner was not building a church – and after he signed a pledge declaring that the structure was his home – police determined that his license to build was legitimate.
Speaking to the International Christian Concern (ICC), Emad Samuel, a Christian resident of the village said, “On Friday, July 22, following the Muslim noon prayer, dozens of Muslim young men gathered in the front of some Christian-owned houses. They were chanting Islamic slogans and they hurled bricks and gravel to the houses.
“They then broke into four houses owned by Christians…they looted and destroyed the contents of these houses and smashed a car owned by one of [the Christians].”
The village, which has no church, is home to 60 Christian families.
Similar attacks have occurred on June 30, July 15 and July 17, which resulted in the death of a Coptic Christian man.
International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that, “As per usual with these attacks, police did not show up until an hour after. Security forces were able to control the mob and impose a security cordon in the village as a follow up. Police arrested two of the Christians, Ishak Fahim and his nephew, accusing them of building a church. They also arrested 15 Muslims that were a part of the mob.”
Sandra Elliot, ICC’s Program Coordinator, commented, “Mob violence over the suspicion of church construction is plaguing the country at this point. This attack is of particular concern since police officials were aware that it was a house being built and not a church … It is imperative that the Egyptian government secures the lives and property of all of its citizens, including and especially Christians.”
One Christian who spoke to Clarion Project and requested anonymity, remarked, “Christians were first dwellers of Egypt before Muslim invaded the land, but now Christians are treated as if they are the new comers and not welcomed in their own land … Will this happen to Europe, Canada and USA? … They still think that Spain belongs to them just because they lived there for a while, as if that land did not have an original owner before them.”
Christianity predates Islam in Egypt by centuries. Some scholars say that the first Christians appeared during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero during the first century A.D.
Christianity may have come to Spain as early as the first century. By the second century, Christian communities were already established on the Iberian penisula.
Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, established Islam in the seventh century. The Muslim conquest of Egypt began in 638 A.D. Muslim rule in Spain began in 714 A.D.