Second Time in Two Weeks that Christian Property has been Destroyed due to Suspicion of Church Construction
07/19/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) - International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 15, 2016, a mob of radical Muslims looted and burned five houses owned by Christians in Manshiet El-Dahab El-Qibliya village, Egypt. The attack occurred after rumors circulated that a Christian home would be turned into a church.
This is the second time in two weeks that Christian property has been destroyed due to suspicion of church construction. On June 30, 2016, four homes in Kom El-Loufy village were destroyed under almost identical circumstances.
In the July 15 attack, the building that sparked suspicion belonged to Ibrahim Khalil Abdel Malak. The first floor had been used as a nursery school for the Mar Mina Coptic Church. The second floor housed Ibrahim and his family. Rumors spread that the nursery school was to be renovated into a church although there already exists a village church in El-Dahab El-Qibliya.
"At 9:15 p.m., a great deal of radical Muslims, more than 1,000 people...gathered in the front of the building and attacked it," Malak Khalil Abdel Malak, Ibrahim's brother, told ICC, "They hurled stones on the building and shouted, 'We will have no church here, allahu akbar'...The mob then broke into my brother's building, looted the contents of his house and some of the furniture of the nursery, destroying the rest of it and then they set the building on fire."
Ibrahim and his family were able to escape the attack through their back door. After destroying Ibrahim's home, the mob turned to his brother's house and the three buildings adjacent. The three other homes belonged to Istemalik Youssef Istemalak, his brother Youhanna, and Wahid Wahid Farag.
Several nearby Christian villagers called the police to report the incident, although authorities did not arrive until three hours after the initial attack. Firefighters also did not come to the scene until after midnight.
Topping police apathy and ineptitude, the security forces who arrived in the village confiscated the cellphones of the Christian bystanders who had taken photos and videos of the attack. When the mobile devices were returned, all footage of the attack had been erased. While 20 Muslim men are in custody, the leaders who incited the attack have not been arrested.
Sandra Elliot, ICC's Program Coordinator, said, "We are, again, frustrated and devastated for the Christian community in Egypt and the losses they have endured. The attack in El-Dahab El-Qibliya comes only two weeks after a nearly identical attack in El-Loufy where four Christian homes were destroyed because of rumors of church construction. While we are thankful that no one was harmed, we are angry for the Egyptian Christian community that is living in fear of mob violence. It is imperative that the Egyptian government and security forces take drastic measures to curtail further attacks. The construction of a church should not incite the fury of a mob, as Christianity is the second most widely practiced religion in the nation of Egypt."
For interviews with Sandra Elliot, Program Coordinator, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org