For Christians In Egypt, Building A New Church Can Set Off Violence

Source: NPR

 

Christians in Minya province have faced long-running tensions with their Muslim neighbors over an issue central to their survival as a community — whether they can build churches.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Next we have the story of a religious minority. Of the many religious minorities in the United States, Muslims have faced intense scrutiny in recent years. In majority-Muslim Egypt, one frequently scrutinized minority group are Christians. They face arguments over whether they can build churches and sometimes much worse. Last month, you may recall, a gunman opened fire on Christians, killing 29 people. NPR’s Jane Arraf visited the province with Egypt’s highest percentage of Christians.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

JANE ARRAF, BYLINE: I’m in a small house in the farming village of al-Our. Like a dozen families here, Izas Dawood has turned her living room into a shrine. Behind the flickering candles, next to pictures of her two smiling sons, she’s hung the altar boy gowns they wore in the village church before they went to neighboring Libya to find work.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

IZAS DAWOOD: (Foreign language spoken).

ARRAF: Samuel was 20, and Beshoy was 22. They’re considered martyrs now. That’s because they were among 20 young Egyptian workers beheaded by ISIS in Libya two years ago. To commemorate their deaths, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gave permission for a huge new church on the road to al-Our. Building churches is so controversial here, it took an ISIS attack to get permission to build one.

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