Coptic church torched in Egypt

by Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

A mob of several thousand Muslims from the village of Elmarinab in Edfu, Aswan province, demolished and torched St George’s church, which was being renovated.

According to Mary Abdelmassih, writing for AINA – Assyrian International News Agency , the mob demolished the dome, walls and columns, after Friday prayers then went to the church depot where the lumber to be used for construction was stored and torched it. The fire lasted 2 hours, but the attack continued until 7 PM.

AINA says that in an interview on Coptic TV channel, Father Salib of St. George’s Church said: “The Imam of one of the village mosques called on the people to take matters in their own hands.” Other witnesses named the Imam as Sheikh Sabry.

AINA reports that according to eyewitnesses, the Muslims also torched a large depot of electrical goods owned by a Coptic Christian, a supermarket and four Coptic homes. Muslims prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. Security forces, which were present, “stood there watching,” said Mr.Michael Ramzy, a social worker at the church.

Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human rights Organizations sent an urgent message to Field Marshall Tantawi to save the Copts in Egypt. “The Copts, their lives and their churches are in danger,” he said.

AINA said attorney Mamdouh Nakhla, head of the Al-Kalema human rights organization, condemned Muslims taking the law in their own hands. He said:”If the Egyptian Government is unable to protect its citizens, then the civilized international society should step in immediately to stop this human tragedy.”

AINA reports that Egyptian media denied the incident. Mostafa el Sayed, Governor of Aswan, appeared on State TV denying that any church was being torched. He said it was a “guest home” and not a church. El Sayed said he gave his permission for the building to be 9 meters high, but the church contractor made it 13 meters high.

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