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    » 11/27/2008, 00.00

    ISLAM - EGYPT

    Thousands of Muslims attack Coptic church in Cairo



    On the day of the inauguration of a church in the suburbs of the Egyptian capital, Islamic demonstrators have attacked the building, forcing about 800 faithful to barricade themselves inside the church.

    Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Several thousand Muslims have attacked the Coptic church of the Virgin Mary in West Ain Shams, in the suburbs of Cairo. 800 faithful attending the first liturgy remained barricaded inside the church.

    The demonstrators attacked the building on the day of its inauguration, November 23. The strife began in the early hours of the morning when a group of Muslims took possession of the first floor of a building in front of the church, turning it into a place of prayer. At about five o'clock in the afternoon, other demonstrators blocked the road on both sides, and began the attack. The building was originally a factory, but has been modified as a place of worship for the Orthodox Coptic community, after a bureaucratic process that lasted five years.

    It is the latest of many acts of violence against Christians. The Copts are the main religious minority living in Egypt, and represent 15% of the population, out of a total of 80 million inhabitants. Over the last 30 years, it is estimated that about 4,000 Christians have been killed or injured in attacks. In 2008, there have been dozens of events similar to the one that happened to the community in the suburb of Cairo.

    Interviewed by AsiaNews, Fr. Milad Sidky Zakhary, director of the Catholic Institute of religious studies in Cairo, explains: "The problem is that legal authorization is not given easily to Christians to build churches. It often happens that communities are groups are forced to meet in homes or private buildings in order to fulfill the Sunday precept. If anyone discovers them, they do not report it to the authorities, but directly attack the faithful."

    According to Voice of the Copts, A Coptic Christian association based in Italy and the United States, about 10,000 demonstrators attacked the church. Other local sources say that there were 20,000, and report that, when the police came, the crowd moved on to the businesses and property owned by Christians in the neighborhood, waving clubs and chanting incitements to jihad. According to reports, two cars were burned, and five people were injured, in addition to the damage to the newly consecrated church.

    Witnesses say that there were also women and children among the demonstrators. Video taken at the moment of the attack on the church has been published on the website of the agency Assyrian International.

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    See also

    13/03/2010 EGYPT
    Crowd of 3 thousand Muslims attack a Coptic Christian community, 25 injured
    Faithful were gathered in prayer when attack occurred. There were four priests, one deacon and 400 parishioners in the building, women and children also targeted. Fundamentalists fury, egged on by the imam, unleashed by the rumour that the Christians are building a new church. In reality it is a hospice.

    07/01/2010 EGYPT
    Nag Hamadi: armed commando attacks Coptic Christians, seven dead and three wounded
    The incident happened at midnight last night, after Christmas Mass which the Coptic Church celebrates Christmas on January 7. The attack was revenge for an alleged case of sexual assault against a twelve year old, which occurred last November.

    29/01/2014 EGYPT
    Cairo, Coptic Orthodox church attacked. One dead.
    A group of Islamists attacked the church of the Virgin Mary: a police officer shot down in the battle. One of the assailants was apprehended by residents, the second was arrested by the police later that evening.

    14/08/2013 EGYPT
    Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood assaults 22 Christian churches
    The attacks are connected to the evacuation of Islamist sit-ins by the police. At the moment there is no data about any deaths or injuries. Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesperson of the Egyptian Catholic Church, spoke of at least seven Catholic churches attacked, and another fifteen Coptic Orthodox and Protestant churches

    28/04/2012 EGYPT
    Egyptian court shelves trial against 'unknown' for Maspero massacre of Copts
    Judges claim "lack of identification of the culprits." In the October 9, 2011 massacre of peaceful demonstrators 27 Christians were killed and over 300 were injured. 28Copts arrested in the aftermath of the massacre and accused of involvement also acquitted. Victims’ relatives cry "farce".



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