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Muslims attack and torch previously threatened church in Egypt

Country/Region: Egypt, Middle East and North Africa

Muslims have carried out their threat to destroy a church in an Egyptian village; they also torched homes and other property belonging to Christians.

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A mob of Muslims descended on St George’s Church, which was being renovated, in Elmarinab, Aswan province, after Friday prayers on 30 September. They demolished the dome, walls and columns before torching the building. Construction materials were also set alight.

Other property owned by Christians – four homes, a large depot of electrical goods and a supermarket – were also torched.

Eyewitnesses said that the Muslims prevented the fire brigade from entering the village, while a social worker at the church said that the security forces just “stood there watching”.

Demolition threat

Local Muslims had previously threatened to demolish the church and use it as a mosque.  The century-old church of St George was being rebuilt – with permission from the Aswan governor – because its dilapidated state made it unsafe to use for services. Local Muslims had made no complaint about the rebuilding until the work was nearly complete and services were being held there.

They then began to demand that the building be stripped of any sign of its being a church, including crosses, bells and domes, and they barricaded Christian residents in their homes until their requests were met.

The Muslims claimed that the original building was not a church but a hospitality home, despite valid documents to the contrary.

Various peace-keeping efforts failed, and on Friday (30 September) the imam of one of the village mosques called for Muslims to take matters into their own hands.

The Governor of Aswan said that the church contractor had exceeded the height limit for the building, and that both parties were therefore at fault.

Following the incident, Christian villagers were reportedly staying indoors, as it was rumoured that Muslims had threatened to torch their homes.

Several Christian organisations staged a rally in Cairo, culminating in Tahrir Square, on Saturday (1 October), protesting against attacks on churches.

Mass emigration

Since the revolution, Christians have increasingly been subjected to violent attacks by Islamists. A report by the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organisations (EUHRO) said that increased sectarian tensions had resulted in the emigration of 100,000 Christians from Egypt since March.  

EUHRO director Naguib Gabriel said that the Christians were not leaving voluntarily but were being forced out by the aggressive tactics of hard-line Salafist Muslims.  

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    • Give thanks that as believers in some areas of Egypt continue to be at risk of violence from Islamists, Barnabas Fund is able to provide various kinds of practical help for needy Christians there, especially those most affected by the political turmoil. We are supporting Christian families in Upper Egypt with housing costs, medicines, food and schooling for their children, and 30 Christian students who were on the verge of dropping out of education because of lack of money have received funding to complete their education. Pray for all those receiving this help, that they will also be encouraged spiritually. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 2 hours ago

    • Give thanks that the authorities in Egypt are pursuing justice for the Christian community following widespread violence against them by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood last summer. Christians were scapegoated by the Islamists for the downfall of President Mohammed Morsi. On 14 August, mobs torched scores of churches, Christian institutions and private property in what was described as the worst single day of violence against the Egyptian Church since the 14th century. Over 100 Muslims have been charged in connection with the attacks; at the time of writing they were due to stand trial for rioting, attacking citizens and targeting the churches and homes of Christians. Pray that justice will be done and restitution made to churches and individuals who suffered material losses. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Jul 2014 00:00

    • “I was so happy and treasure this Word of God. It brings me so much peace and hope.” Uu Dee KoMang, an elderly woman in Burma (Myanmar), was one of many Christians who recently received a Kachin Bible through Barnabas Fund. Two years ago the Burmese army entered her village and ordered everyone to leave within the hour. Uu Dee took some clothes and food and ran, but her Bible was too heavy to carry. Now living in a relocation camp, she regretted not taking it, until the Bibles from Barnabas arrived. Pray that God’s Word will comfort and strengthen these believers who have lost so much and will give them encouragement for the future. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Jul 2014 00:00

    • Pray for three Christian prisoners of conscience in Vietnam who are being denied access to Bibles and other sources of spiritual support. Prison guards in Hanoi and Thanh Hoa province have refused to allow Le Quoc Quan, a lawyer and activist, and bloggers Maria To Phong Tan and Paul Tran Minh Nhat to receive visits from their church leaders and have prevented them from receiving Communion. Maria is serving a ten-year prison sentence in a harsh labour camp; she has been beaten by other inmates. Pray that the Lord will sustain and build up the faith of our brothers and sister as they cry out to Him in their need (Psalm 142:6). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Jul 2014 00:00

    • Five ethnic Hmong Christian families in Vietnam have been attacked by their neighbours in attempts to get them to renounce their faith. On 26 February, Hang A Khua and his family were ordered to recant by public security officers, backed by around 30 villagers from Trun Phu in Dien Bien province; when they refused, the officers ordered the villagers to attack them. The mob ransacked and demolished the family’s house; their rice fields were confiscated, and they were expelled from the district. In Son La province, four more Christian families were similarly threatened in March. One couple were attacked in their home; they were kicked and punched, and the wife was dragged out of the house by her hair. Give thanks for these families’ courageous stand for Christ and pray that they will find strength in Him. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Jul 2014 00:00

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