Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
EGYPT (ANS) -- Two Coptic children have been detained on charges of Defamation of Islam.
According to a story by Mary Abdelmassih of the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), Mina Nady Farag, 9, and Nabil Nagy Rizk, 10, both from the village of Ezbet Marco in Beni Suef, were arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center.
The incarceration will last until Sunday, pending investigation into a complaint submitted by the village Muslims. The children will appear again before prosecution on Sunday.
AINA said Nabil's father told Copts United that his son does not read or write. He said the children were searching in a pile of trash to find "something useful" when they found a plastic bag with torn papers. They were stopped by a Salafi sheikh, who took the children to church to report them to the priest.
"He insisted that the priest stop mass and come outside to talk to him," said a resident of the village. The priest went out and chided the two boys.
According to AINA, not many newspapers covered this story which broke on Monday, and those which did had several versions of the story.
AINA reported that Al-Ahram, the semi-governmental daily, said in its Oct. 1 issue that authorities succeeded in containing a sectarian crisis between Muslims and Christians by arranging a meeting between Muslim and Christian families, where the Christians apologized and the Muslims accepted their apology.
AINA said Al-Ahram wrote that the two nine-year-old boys were tearing some old papers in a library, including papers "suspected to be from the Koran," when an imam of a mosque saw what they were doing, and subsequently took them to their parents to complain.
AINA said the newspapers later changed the story and reported that the two children "urinated" on the Koran.
"We thought the matter was sorted out after the meeting between the Muslim and Christian families two days ago, but we were stunned today when both boys were to be held in custody in a juvenile detention center," AINA reported Nabil's father said.
In a new development, AINA said it has been reported that the Muslims in Ezbet Marco have prevented the priest of the church from entering the village, allegedly because he did not chastise the two boys enough.
AINA said some Copts believe that the real aim behind this defamation of Islam story is to ban the priest from the village and stop any prayers in its church.