Muslims Burn Christian Homes and Businesses in Egypt
By Mary Abdelmassih
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(AINA) -- The sectarian crisis in the village of Dahshur escalated on August 1 after the burial of the Muslim man who died yesterday in hospital. Hundreds of Muslims torched and looted Coptic businesses and homes despite hundreds of security forces being deployed in the village. Eyewitnesses reported that security forces did not protect most Coptic property -- only the small church of St. George was protected, in addition to some Coptic houses in its neighborhood.

"As 120 families had already fled the village the day before after being terrorized, the businesses and homes were an easy game for the mob to make a complete clean-up of everything that could be looted," said Coptic activist Wagih Jacob. "The security forces were at the scene of the crime while it was taking place and did nothing at all."

After the violence, the family of the deceased Moaz Hasab-Allah said that destroying Coptic property is not enough and that Coptic have to "pay for their son's death" with lives. They did not yet accept condolences for his death, which is a sign that a vendetta is intended. In certain parts of Egypt, when the family of a deceased intends to take revenge, they accept no condolences before the persons responsible are killed.

The sectarian incident which, now called the "shirt sedition," started on July 27 in Dahshur, Badrasheen, 40 km south of Cairo, after the Coptic launderer Sameh Samy inadvertently burned the shirt of his Muslim client Ahmad Ramadan. Although they agreed to meet in the evening to settle the claim, Ramadam did not wait but came back in the afternoon to fight. After some 3000 armed Muslims surrounded the Copt's home and launderette, he locked himself up in his home. As the fight intensified on both sides with Molotov cocktails, the Copt hurled one fire bomb from the roof of his house, which the 25-year-old Moaz, who happened to be passing by. He was taken to hospital, suffering third degree burns. After his death in hospital, Muslim brotherhood clerics and his family vowed to exact revenge, causing 120 terrorized Christian families to flee the village, with only one Christian family remaining behind according to the village priest Takla Abdel-Sayed.

The Coptic launderer, his father and brother, after being assaulted by the mob, were detained by the police on charges of murder and possession of explosives. Five arrest warrants were issued for 5 Muslims who are still at large (AINA 8-1-2012).

The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement today criticizing officials "for not dealing firmly with the events, demanding the speedy arrest of the perpetrators, the provision of security to the village Copts, their return to their homes, and monetary compensation for all those affected."

Many activists regard the Dahshur incident as a perpetuation of the Mubarak-era policies of collective punishment of Copts.

"We were previously told that it was the old regime and security authorities which stirred sedition to divert the attention from existing problems facing the government," said commented law professor and former member of parliament Georgette Qellini. "Now that regime has gone, so who now is the culprit? We flatly refuse collective punishment of Copts. Just because I share some one's religion, I have to pay the price of losing my home and my job."

In an interview with MidEast Christian News Rev. Dr. Safwat El-Bayadi, head of the Evangelical Community in Egypt, said that collective punishment of Christians is prevailing in the absence of a system and deterrent laws to punish perpetrators.

"Is it possible that just because of a torched shirt, the whole village is to burn down," said Anba Theodosius, Coptic bishop of Giza. He intends to send today clergy from the Giza Diocese, to which Dahshur is affiliated, to visit President Morsy to demand "the return of the displaced families to the village, putting on trial those responsible, compensating the Christians victims for loss of their property and the return of stability and security to the village."

Dozens of Copts from the Maspero Coptic Youth Federation and the Coalition of Egypt's Copts staged demonstrations on Wednesday and today in front of the presidential palace and the headquarters of Security in Giza, protesting the Dahshour events. They chanted slogans against President Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Fadi Joseph, founder of the Coalition of Egypt's Copts, said during today's protest that President Mohamed Morsi went back on his election promise to the Copts, that "I will not do no injustice to any Copt and no Copt will ever be displaced." Youssef denied that the events of Dahshur was sectarian, stressing that what happened is an organized and systematic attack on Christians by militant Islamist groups in Dahshur. "

On the other hand politicians and commentators have criticized the president for failing in his first test. Some now call him "President of Gaza" due to his concern with affairs in Gaza.

Karam Gabriel, a lawyer and human rights activist, said that Dr. Mohamed Morsy bears full responsibility for the events of Dahshur, stressing that he cares about foreign matters such as the Gaza Strip at the expense of the Egyptians and the Christians who are being assaulted in an ongoing basis and are displaced.

Renowned Egyptian novelist and rights activist Alaa Al-Aswany wrote on his Twitter account a message to those who belittle the events of Dahshur, saying "What if the Americans acted the same way as the extremists of Dahshur, would you accept the expulsion of Muslims of America in response to Ben Laden's terrorism?"

The Shoura Chamber (Parliamentary Advisory Council), during its session this morning decided to form a committee to go to Dahshur, "to reconcile the citizens."

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