Morning Star News

One Christian is dead, several others have been wounded and a fire gutted a church building after Muslims across Egypt waged a weekend of violence against Copts.

In Tahana El-Gabal village in Minya Governorate, on Sunday night, 17th July, Fam Mary Khalaf, 27, was overpowered by a group of Muslims who stabbed him repeatedly in the chest. One of the knife stabs went directly into his heart, killing him instantly, a statement from the local parish reported.

Three others were seriously injured in the attack: Nagib Hanna, father of the Rev. Metaous, a local Coptic priest; Malak Aziz, brother of Rev Boutrous, another local priest; and Azza Jouma, a Christian neighbor of the three victims, was stabbed in the face.

The attack started when four Muslims began harassing Metaous’s primary school-age son as his grandfather was looking after him outside his home. The men threatened to run the boy over, witnesses told human rights activists investigating the incident. Once the stabbing began, the group of four quickly grew into a mob of more than two dozen screaming, “Stand by your Muslim brother!”

The assault was one of numerous cases of violence against Copts in Minya Governorate over the past few months, including an attack in May in which an elderly Coptic woman was stripped, beaten and paraded naked through her village streets because of a rumor, later shown to be false, that her son was having a romantic relationship with a Muslim woman.

Ishak Ibrahim, a human rights researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), said the attacks in Egypt and specifically in Minya continue because no one is being punished for committing them.

“What happened in Minya is nothing but a natural result of not enforcing the law in previous sectarian attacks against the Copts, and forcing the Copts to go through reconciliation meetings and obey illegal solutions that are demeaning,” he said.

The Tahana El-Gabal stabbing death came about a day after a mob of Muslims, enraged over a rumor that a church building was being constructed in the governorate, attacked Copts in their village. Starting shortly after 9pm on Friday, groups of Muslims set on the Copts in the village of Abu Yacoub, causing minor injuries and torching five homes.

The attack lasted into the early morning hours of Saturday. Firefighters showed up several hours after the structures had been destroyed.

The bishop of Minya, identified according to tradition only by his consecrated name, Makarious, said in a press statement that the rioting mobs were in complete violation of the law and that there was no excuse for the violence.

“Nobody has the right to attack others and kill and destroy their property, no matter what,” he said.