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Muslim neighbours protect Christian family from extremist mob when violence erupted in Egyptian village after “insulting” Facebook post

2 December 2020

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Muslim mob took to the streets in al-Barsha village, Minya governorate, Upper Egypt, attacking Christian homes and the church of Abu-Seifein, in violent retaliation to a Facebook comment deemed insulting to the Muhammad.

The Christian man, Girgis Sameeh, who allegedly posted the comment, claimed that his social media account was hacked.

A church in Minya governorate, Egypt [Image credit: Egypttoday]

Stones, fireballs and Molotov cocktails were thrown as part of the violence, which took place on the evening of 25 November. The mob made attempts to attack the Christian man’s family home but were unable to reach it as the family’s Muslim neighbours stepped in to protect them. The family was not hurt in the violence.

Local reports suggested that perhaps as many as 130 Muslims and Christians were arrested by the police during the clashes, which were dispersed with teargas. There have been reports of Christians engaging in the violence, though many Christians have been critical of the arrests on social media and claim that they were in a situation of self-defence.

An 80-year-old woman suffered burns to the face after a fireball hit her bedroom, though injuries sustained by others were minor.

Property damages incurred by the Christians in the village include the burning down of a stable, theft of cattle, damage to a bus belonging to the church and the shattering of a number of windows.

In subsequent hostilities on the night of 29 November, six farm huts and yards owned by Christians were burnt by Muslim villagers. Some Muslim extremists are calling for a boycott of trade and commercial activity with the Christian community.

In June 2019, a mob of up to 100 Muslim extremists ransacked the home of an Egyptian Christian after a post insulting Islam was placed on his Facebook site by a computer hacker. Islamic State (IS) is known to have hacked the Facebook accounts of at least 60 Egyptian Christians since mid-2017 in order to insult and threaten them and spread its propaganda.

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