Mob protest against legalisation of church in Egyptian village

24 July 2018

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Local Muslims held three days of angry demonstrations to protest against the granting of legal status to a church in the village of Sultan Basha, around 150 miles south of Cairo.

Demonstrations began after Friday prayers on 6 July. Local Muslims chanted, “never a church in our midst” and Christians in the village locked themselves in their homes for fear of violence. Local police did not intervene.

Protests took place the following day, on 7 July, and again after Friday prayers on 13 July. During the protests on 13 July, a local police official reassured the demonstrators that no church would be permitted in the village.

Churches across Egypt were destroyed in a wave of violence following the ousting of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Even though President Sisi has pushed through measures to legalise existing church buildings, they still face sometimes violent local opposition

Local Christian leaders have condemned the statement by police. “We are saddened by official appeasement of and acquiescence to demands,” said the Bishop of Minya and Abu-Qurqas. “We are confident that honourable officials … share our stance in absolutely rejecting the unlawful acts and declarations against us. They have promised to deal firmly with the situation and perpetrators, so that similar incidents do not recur.”

In April, a 300-strong Muslim mob forced the closure of a church building in al-Kumeira, around 36 miles south of Luxor, after the church was granted official recognition by the government. The building was openly purchased by the Christian community in 2006 and Muslim villagers had even attended Christian weddings there.

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