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Monday, March 7, 2011

Coptic Christians Attacked Near Cairo Egypt

The following contains information reported by Mary Abdelmassih (Assyrian News Agency (AINA)):

This incident took place March 7.

An incident that was sparked after a relationship between a Coptic man and a Muslim woman came to light in the village of Soul, 30 km from Cairo. AINA reported the Muslim woman's father was killed by his cousin after the father refused to kill his daughter to preserve the family's honor. This led to the woman's brother avenging the death of their father by killing the cousin. Muslims in the village blamed the Christians for the killing. A curfew was then imposed on the 12,000 Christians in the village.

A mob of nearly 4,000 Muslims then began attacking Coptic homes, and torched the Coptic churches of St. Mina and St. George. The mob prevented the fire department from entering the village to fight the fires.

The mob tore down the cross and domes in one of the churches then hurled six gas cylinders inside, burning it to the ground. The whereabouts of the pastor and three deacons are unknown at this time. Some witnesses have claimed they died in the fire while others have stated they are being held captive by members of the mob.

"Terrorized Copts have fled and some hid in homes of Muslim neighbors," Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub told AINA.

The Egyptian army which is now in control of the country and had units stationed 7km away, initially refused to enter the village. When they eventually ordered three tanks to the area, the tanks were turned away by Muslim elders who told them that everything was in order.

After a meeting between Muslim elders and high-ranking Muslim and Copt families, it was decided that the man originally involved with the Muslim woman, Ashraf Iskander, 40, would be forced to leave the village. His house had been torched by the mob.

Subsequent to writing this I received messages from Muslim activists in the area who have vowed to rebuild the churches and protect the Coptic population from further violence.

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