The escalation of Muslim attacks on Christian churches in Egypt continues unabated. This week two attacks were carried out, one in Alexandria and one in Menbal in Upper Egypt — both allegedly prompted by harassment of Muslim women. Yesterday the church of St. Mary, in the Dakhela district, west of Alexandria, was attacked by Molotov cocktails and bricks, causing the gate to burn and the breaking of most of the stained glass windows. One Copt was killed and several injured.
According to the official police explanation, the Copt Basem Ramzy Michael was seen by the Muslim Hamada Alloshy, a registered criminal, allegedly extending his body from his balcony to gaze at the flat of Alloshy’s sister, who lives on the ground floor. A quarrel broke out and when the church was attacked, hundreds of Copts hurried to the area to defend the church, among whom was 36-year-old Sedky Sherif, a father of three children. According to his nephew Rabah, who was with him at the time of his death, 1000 Copts were present and were attacked by over 20,000 Muslims, who were firing bird shots at them and throwing bricks. While the church was being attacked the Muslims were shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Security forces were sent out to diffuse the situation and disperse the crowd. They made several arrests on both sides.
According to the Security report, the Copt “died of fright,” suffering a heart attack after hearing the sound of gun fire. According to his family and those who saw him, his body was full of bruises and marks from bird shots.
The family and relatives of Sedky Sherif waited this morning at Kom el Dekka morgue to receive his body and the results of the autopsy. A death certificate was issued quoting cause of death as “under investigation.” Weesa Fawzy from Al-Kalema Human Rights Center said that this was the first time that a death certificate is issued and the cause of death is still under investigation. “Has he been seen by the forensics team or not, so how are they still investigating when the body is already buried?”
Coptic Mina Milad Saber, 19 years, was severely injured in yesterday’s attack and underwent brain surgery, but this morning he was found shackled to his bed by the police for fear he might escape, although he is still in a coma.
Most Christians who were injured during the attack either went privately for treatment or quietly left hospital, “as it will end by them being arrested too,” said Weesa Fawzy.
On May 13, in the village of Menbal, district of Matay, north of Minya province, a Muslim mob stormed the village church of Prince Tadros el-Mashreki and assaulted a person inside. They hurled stones and broke everything inside the church, including doors and windows. The mob then went along the streets looting and destroying all Coptic-owned businesses and pharmacies and torching cars. The Copts were also threatened to be expelled from the village. According to witnesses, any Copt who was met by the mob in the street was beaten up.
Attorney Dr. Ehab Ramzy, former MP, said that Menbal has a Muslim majority while Manshiet Menbal, 10 kilometers away, has a Coptc majority. In the afternoon of that day three Muslim youths went to Manshiet Menbal and harassed Coptic girls as they came out of church. “As they drove by, the Muslims threw plastic bags filled with urine at the girls,” Ramzy said. “The Coptic youth defended the girls and, being outnumbered, the Muslims left.” A couple of hours later Muslims congregated and attacked the church and the Coptic minority in village of Menbal.
“The two villages have nothing to do with each other, and Copts in Menbal have nothing at all to do with the quarrel that took place in Manshiet Menbal. They were attacked just because they are Christians,” said Ramzy. Two Muslims were arrested from Menbal, and there is talk of a “reconciliation” meeting to be held. “Now security are looking for Christians to arrest them as a bargaining chip for this forthcoming “reconciliation” meeting,” said Dr Ramzy.
By Mary Abdelmassih for AINA