'Hurling a Stone At a Mosque' Rumor Leads to Attack on Christians in Egypt
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(AINA) -- As a result of a rumor that a young Christian Copt hurled a stone towards a mosque, thousands of Muslims congregated and attacked Copts and their properties, leaving several injured and arrested.

The incident, which took place on Wednesday, May 13, 2009,in the area of Saft El-Labn, Giza, resulted in the injury of 14 people from both sides. The police arrested 20 Copts, including 6 women, and 7 Muslims, and security imposed a curfew on the region.

Among the Copts randomly rounded up by the police is 29-year-old Sabry Shaker, a physically handicapped man suffering from infantile paralysis.

Those arrested have been subjected to torture to force them to confess to crimes they have not committed. The attacked Copts called upon the human rights organizations for help.

A delegation from the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization (EUHRO), headed by its President Dr. Naguib Gibraeel, went to Boulak Dakrour police station and remained until the early hours of Thursday morning, to follow up on the incident.

According to a press release issued today by the EUHRO, three Coptic youths, Hend Azmy, Peter Zaghloul and Sarwat Ibrahim, are still missing from among those arrested, including the handicapped Copt. "The police officers could not give a plausible reason for their absence which suggests that they have been kept in an undisclosed place due to the severity of the torture they went through, and the police are trying to cover up their doings,, commented Gibraeel.

Yesterday's sectarian clashes were brought about by an argument between the relative of a Coptic girl who was sexually harassed by a Muslim youth, and was on a small scale. Unfortunately, Muslim fanatics in the area propagated a rumour that during the melee, the Copts hurled stones towards the Mosque. As a result thousands of Muslims gathered and attacked the Copts living in the area, and destroyed 6 shops including a pharmacy, a supermarket and some vehicles.

Dr.Gibraeel demanded from the Interior Minister Habib Al Adly to intervene to put an end to this practice of torture. He added that this phenomenon of repeated attacks on the lives of Copts and their property in recent times reflects the culture of extremism, militancy and intolerance towards the Christians as well as the diminution of their civil rights. He added that this is caused by the 'stance taken by the government against the Copts', which is reflected by a large sector of hard-liners.

Dr.Gibraeel, an attorney and a Copt himself, commented: "Until when will this silence continue and for how long will Copts continue to be treated so lowly, while the regime is boasting about how we live in the best era of democracy and citizenship? But it appears to be just 'slogans' empty of any content!"

By Mary Abdelmassih

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