AINA News
Muslim Cleric Calls for Jihad, Coptic Christians Attacked in Egypt

(AINA) -- On August 13 Sheikh Tobah, Imam of the village of Shimi 170 KM south of Giza, called during Muslim Friday prayers for Jihad against Christians living there. As a result the Christian Copts living in the village were assaulted over two consecutive days. Eleven Copts were hospitalized and many Coptic youths were arrested.

The assaults begain a couple of hours after the Sheikhs incitement. An argument between Copt Maher Amin, who was washing his taxi, and Mohamed Ali Almstaui, a Muslim extremist from the village, escalated into violence as Mohamad assaulted Maher. The altercation was stopped by bystanders. However, after the evening break of Ramadan fast, Ahmad, the brother of the perpetrator Mohamad, who is reported to belong to an extremist organization, together with twenty other men, went to Maher's family home, breaking down the door and assaulting him and his family with batons, including his old mother and his paralyzed sister, injuring them and breaking their furniture.

Security forces came and took away the Christian victims and kept them at the station in spite of their wounds, to pressuree them into accepting "reconciliation" with their attackers. None of the Muslims were arrested.

Saad Gamal, Egyptian MP for Elsaff, phoned from Gaza, where he is on a visit, and gave orders to the police to force reconciliation on the Coptic parties.

"I was against reconciliation, because I know that the culprits know that they can assault Copts, and in the end it will boil down to Copts giving up all their rights with the reconciliation sessions," said Reverend Ezra Nageh of St. George's Church in Elsaff.

"I was told by the security authorities that for the sake of the Holy month of Ramadan, everyone ought to make peace."

The next day, after the compulsory reconciliation between the Amin family and Almstaui family, a large number of Muslims were gathered by the Almstauis and attacked again the houses of the Copts, beaten the inhabitants, and went to the fields and assaulted the Copts there also.

"Why should they not do that, when they are told that the MP will defend them," said Rev. Ezra, adding the police have yet to issue a report about the incidents, because they were afraid of the MP. "So to whom should we go for help? MP Saad Gamal hates Christians, and President Mubarak pretends that he is not present or unaware of our plight."

Ghali Tawfik, one of the Coptic victims, said "We are forced into reconciliation and in less than 24 hours, we are assaulted again."

In an aired audio interview with activist Wagih Yacoub, Maher Amin said "they have humiliated us. We were beaten and we could not do anything about it. We are weak and helpless and have to accept reconciliation. They will next come to our homes and rape our women, and we will not be able to do anything about it."

Karam Bebawy, another Coptic victim, said the arrival of strangers to the village two weeks ago "with long beards and wearing short dresses like the Islamists" have a hand in poisoning the atmosphere in their village and inciting the Muslims against the Copts. He said that his Muslim neighbors have turned against him without reason since then.

Police today released the assaulted Copts who were detained on Friday and arrested three new Coptic youths in their twenties on charges of having some old cases against them. They were transferred to State Security. However, Rev. Ezra said that State Security is using the same old trick, which is detaining innocent Copts and fabricating crimes against them, to twist the arm of the church into accepting a forced reconciliation.

The village mayor, Sheikh Saad contacted Rev. Ezra on August 14, regarding a second reconciliation, but he flatly refused.

"They attack us today and force reconciliation on us. Are they waiting for us to be killed tomorrow and then they would think about the rule of law?" asked Reverend Ezra.

By Mary Abdelmassih


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