Village Council Upholds Expulsion of Christian Family in Egypt
By Mary Abdelmassih
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(AINA) -- The family of a 22-year-old Coptic man, Kirollos Sabet, from Zakaria village, Minia province, said today their son is innocent of all accusations of having had an illicit affair with a Muslim woman. They also rejected the ruling to expel six family members from the village.

"We will leave only over our dead bodies," said Mr. Sabet, Kirollos's father.

According to the father, the parents of the Muslim woman in question had nothing to do with the Muslim attacks nor did they report any incident to the police, and affirmed that Kirollos had no relationship with their daughter. "They actually had their daughter undergo a gynecological exam, Said Mr. Sabet, "which proved the woman is 'untouched' [a virgin]."

The father said that Kirollos, who was arrested and imprisoned, was innocent of all allegations and "the whole story was fabricated by Muslim hard-liners from neighboring village to cause sectarian strife. It started when Kirillos was walking on the country lane, coincidently behind that Muslim woman, and he was followed by over ten young Muslim men who took him to an unknown location, beat him and warned him against having relationships with Muslim females. We kept quiet and did not want to make an issue out of it or report it to the police."

Violence in Zakaria village erupted when a rumor circulated in the village of an illicit relationship between Kirollos and a 22-year-old Muslim woman, when a mob of Muslims called for revenge, demonstrated against Copts and started attacking Coptic homes and businesses (AINA 9-29-2013).

Under the supervision of Major General Osama Metwally, director of Minya security, a customary "reconciliation" meeting was held on September 29. The meeting decided that Kirollos was to pay the amount of 300,000 Egyptian pounds and the Muslim woman 150,000 pounds, because she allegedly willingly met the man. But because the woman is poor and cannot pay the amount, it was decided to add her fine to the fine of Kirollos. When Kirollos and his family protested this decision the arbitrators decided to expel him and his five brothers from the village.

Mr. Sabet said that security had arrested five of Kirollos's young cousins without any reason and without charges. He said the family will not sit or talk with anyone before they are released.

After the failure of the first "reconciliation" meeting because of the refusal of the Coptic family to be expelled and the insistence of the village Muslims on their expulsion, a second "reconciliation" meeting was held on October 2nd at Zakaria village. The meeting was again chaired by Major General Osama Metwally and was attended by senior Christian and Muslim families and some Muslim and Christian clerics, not including the Coptic church.

Rev. Khalil Ibrahim, pastor of Grace Apostolic Church, said the parties accepted the "reconciliation" terms, which upheld the expulsion of Kirollos and his father Sabet, as well as the Muslim woman, her mother and brother. The second "reconciliation" meeting decided that no compensation at all is to be paid to the Copts for the loss of their properties.

Questions are now being raised about whether there was an affair between the Muslim woman Kirollos. Muslims claim the woman was "psychologically unstable" and was exploited while the Copts say they can see again the "hands" of the security authorities in the matter, who want to expel the Copts. The Muslim woman, who attended both meetings and who denied the affair, and her family were pressured or given "financial incentives" to leave the village to give an excuse to expel the Copts as well. Copts also believe that the village Muslims want to get rid of affluent families like the Sabet family.

It is common in Egypt that after sectarian strife, the police arrest some of the Muslim perpetrators and innocent Copts as well, in order to use their release as a bargaining tool for the benefit of the Muslims.

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