Muslim mob sets fire to 80 Christian homes as attacks on Christians intensify
The homes of 80 Christian families in the Al-Beida village in Egypt were set on fire and ransacked as a “punishment” by an angry Muslim mob who thought that a Christian-owned building being constructed was going to be used as a church. Christian resident Mousa Zarif, who witnessed the arson attack, recalls : “On Friday afternoon, following Friday noon prayer, a great number of fanatic Muslims gathered in the front of the new house of my cousin, Naim Aziz, during its construction because of a rumour spread in the village that this building would be turned into a church.”
The mob destroyed all construction materials and injured Christians who attempted to reason with them including Aziz and his cousin, Mousa. “They were chanting slogans against us: ‘By no means shall there be a church here’ ” Mousa said. Christians were forced to flee their village as the mob went on to ransack and burn down all Christian homes and buildings in the surrounding area.
There are no churches in the village and Christians, who represent a minority of the village population, must travel 4 miles to the nearest place of worship at the Holy Virgin and the Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church. When the parish priest heard about the attack on the village he drove over there but he too was set upon when the mob surrounded his car. Fortunately he was saved from serious harm by the intervention of moderate Muslims who stood up to the radical mob and got him out of the car.
Police were called to the scene but were either unable or refused to stop the destruction. The crowd continued to set homes and cars on fire in the presence of officers, and also gathered outside the doors to Christian buildings to perform their afternoon prayers on loudspeakers.
Anba Makarios, top Christian cleric for the Minya region, said: “No one did anything and the police took no pre-emptive or security measures in anticipation of the attacks. We are not living in a jungle or a tribal society. It’s incorrect for anyone to declare himself judge, police and ruler.”
This is the latest incident of violent attacks against Christians this past year. Last month, seven Christian homes were set alight and looted. A Christian , whose son had an alleged affair with a Muslim woman, was dragged out of her home onto the streets by a Muslim mob. They stripped her naked, humiliated and beat her while chanting Allahu Akbar, or “God is great.”
Christians in Egypt complain they are treated like second class citizens and have called on the police and authorities to ensure that justice is served and that their communities are protected from further attacks. The perpetrators must not continue to enjoy total impunity and attacks go unpunished because the victims come from a minority faith.