Saturday, January 21, 2012

Muslims in Egypt Attack Church, Burn Christian Homes and Shops

By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

CAIRO, EGYPT (ANS) -- A Muslim mob yesterday (Jan.19) attacked Copts in the Upper Egyptian village of Rahmaniya-Kebly, Nag Hammadi, Qena province, destroying and torching their homes, straw huts and shops, while chanting Allahu Akbar.

Mary Abdelmassih, an Egyptian journalist writing for the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA)  -- says no one was reported killed or injured. According to reports, security forces were present but did not intervene and the fire brigade arrived 90 minutes late.

AINA reports that an eye-witness said a straw hut belonging to a Coptic Christian was torched to clear the area for a mosque. There are more than 300 mosques in the village and one church.

AINA says that according to Coptic residents, the reason behind the violence was the parliamentary elections. The Salafists wanted to prevent Copts, who number more than 50 percent of the inhabitants (20,000), from voting because they intended to vote for two moderate Muslims and not the Salafi candidates. "No Copt from Rahmaniya-Kebly was able to vote today, so the Salafists will win the elections," said a witness. Copts were forcefully prevented from voting.

AINA goes on to say that US-based WAY TV, which covered live yesterday’s Rahmaniya attacks, called commander Osama, head of security at Rahmaniya, who said "everything was OK" -- despite live pictures on TV of the burning homes.

AINA reported that Joseph Nasralla of WAY TV spoke to security and made them aware that the videos of the fires were being broadcast in the U.S. and Middle East, which caused the immediate dispatch of security vehicles. By late evening the violence had stopped.

In another incident yesterday, a large number of Salafis and members of the Muslim Brotherhood entered the Abu Makka church, in Bahteem, Shubra-el-Khayma, Qaliubia province, and informed the congregation that the church has no license and no one should pray in it. One Muslim said the 1,300 square meter church would be suitable for a mosque and a hospital.

AINA said Bishop Marcus of Shubra el Khayma was scheduled to inaugurate the incomplete church and celebrate the Epiphany mass in the evening.

However, according to Coptic witnesses the Bishop cancelled the festivities, which angered the congregation, who were not informed of the reason. A witness said the Muslim promised to be back Friday.

** Michael Ireland is the Senior International Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can make a donation online under 'Donate' tab, then look for 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' under 'Donation Category' to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior International Reporter

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

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