(AINA) -- Violence against Christian Copts erupted again at dawn on Friday, 7/3/09, in the village of Guirgis Bey, Akfahssi, El-Fashn. Coptic priests accused the Egyptian State Security apparatus of masterminding the incident.
"The village Muslims circulated a 'rumour' that the Copts will convert the social services building belonging to the Coptic Diocese of Beba and El-Fashn into a church, resulting in Muslims completely burning down two houses belonging to Christians and attempting to burn down two cars belonging to the church and the priest by pouring kerosene over them," said Diocese spokesman Reverend Abdul Quddus Hanna to Copts United. "The fire brigade arrived 90 minutes later. The State Security then incited the Muslim villagers against the Copts, leading to clashes between them. Twelve Copts and five Muslims have been arrested and charged with assault."
The village of Guirgis Bey which is inhabited by nearly 500 Muslims and 2000 Copts has been placed under curfew.
The Egyptian Union Human Rights Organization EUHRO sent an urgent plea to President Mubarak to protect the Coptic inhabitants, in view of the incompetence of the Ministry of Interior. "Who allowed those hooligans to carry out these attacks? The State security failed and was only successful in arresting eleven Christian young men," said Dr. Naguib Gabraeel, President of EUHRO.
Reverend Hanna commented that the complicity of the State Security in this incident is obvious as the social services building was built some time ago, and the village priest Reverend Samaan Shehata Rizkallah has been residing there.
In an interview with Coptic News Bulletin today, Reverend Samaan said that the nearly 2000 Coptic inhabitants living in the village have been praying in one single room. "The majority of the congregation have been praying in the street, with cattle passing in their midst.'' Reverend Samaan also implicated the State Security. "The villagers are usually peaceful, but the State Security incited them to violence as the social services building is adjacent to a mosque."
The Egyptian Union Human Rights Organization EUHRO sent a plea to President Mubarak to protect the Coptic inhabitants, in view of the ineffectiveness of the Ministry of Interior. "The series of attacks on the Copts is continuous as long as the Government is deliberately not passing the bill on the "unified law for building places of worship," said Dr. Naguib Gabraeel, President of EUHRO
This sectarian violence comes after a similar incident took place also in El-Fashn, Beni Suef, on 6/21/09 in Ezbet Boushra-East where a Muslim mob and the State Security destroyed the homes and crops of the Coptic inhabitants (AINA 6-24-2009).
In his plea Dr. Gabraeel, asks: "Should the Copts resort to the United Nations, and would they then be blamed?"
By Mary Abdelmassih