Egypt – Chuch and homes attacked

On Sunday 21 June a mob of Egyptian Muslims attacked a church in the village of Ezbet Boshra-East, El-Fashn. They destroyed the minster’s car, smashed windows in the church and assaulted the Christians with clubs and other weapons, wounding 25 of them. Homes belonging to local Christians were also attacked: people were assaulted, furniture destroyed and electrical equipment looted. Security forces joined in the assaults and vandalism, and they forcibly detained 19 Christians. The next day the minister was ordered to appear before local prosecutors on charges of sectarian sedition. He and several members of his congregation, including three small children, had taken refuge inside the church, where they were besieged by the security forces. Telephone and internet connections from the village were cut to prevent the Christians from contacting the outside world. The incident began when six Christians who live outside the village came to visit the minister. The security police tried to prevent them from entering the village, but eventually they were admitted for a time. Later a police officer asked them to leave, only for them to be confronted by the mob, who harassed them and struck a woman in the face. The Muslims then began to attack the church building.The minister claimed that the security forces wanted to use the unrest as grounds for reporting that the village is unfit to have a church, despite half its population being Christians. “Such savagery!” he said. “It broke my heart to see my congregation treated in such a beastly and barbaric way.” In a positive development, residents of the village of Deir Abu Hanas were able to celebrate a decision by the local governor to allow them to retain its name. The Ministry of Justice had ruled that this be changed, but residents believe that the name expresses the village’s Christian identity, which dates from the fifth century, when it was built next to a prominent monastery named after Bishop Yuhannas Al Kaseer. • Pray for the minister and church who were attacked in El-Fashn, that the Lord will give them patience and courage in their distress. • Pray for the security forces, that they will bring to justice those responsible for the assaults, and stop harassing the Christian community without reason. • Give thanks that the villagers of Deir Abu Hanas can retain its name. Pray that the Egyptian authorities will deal even-handedly with Christians and Muslims.

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