08/23/2013, 00.00
EGYPT

After church attacks, we live in fear, says Christian woman

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood carry out fresh attacks against Christian communities in Minya and other governorates in Upper Egypt. In Deir Muwass, Islamists cut off water supply to prevent Christians from putting out fires. The arrest of Muslim Brotherhood leaders exacerbates the climate of hate. In Kerdasa (Giza), extremists attack a police station, urinating on the bodies of the agents they killed.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - Speaking to AsiaNews, sources, anonymous for security reasons, relayed some of the more tragic stories involving anti-Christian attacks unleashed by the Muslim Brotherhood starting on 14 August, including the story of a taxi driver who was beheaded in Alexandria for being a Christian; those of policemen mercilessly killed, their bodies publicly defiled in Kerdasa (Giza); or the fate of entire villages devastated and left without food in Minya Governatorate. In such incidents, dozens of people were killed, at least 58 churches were destroyed, and 162 homes and shops were wrecked. Hovering over all this is the daily threat of more attacks and kidnappings.

According to sources, the recent arrest of Muslim Brotherhood leaders has unleashed the violence of their followers many times over. The latter no longer just attack and harass their victims but deliberately and in a premeditated way kill them.

On 21 August, a militia group associated with the Brotherhood laid siege to a local police station in Kerdasa (Giza). When the terrorists stormed the building, they showered the agents with a hail of bullets, petrol bombs and rockets. To terrorise local residents, they dragged the bodies of the dead officers into the street and urinated on them, shouting "Islam, Islam."

In Minya Governorate (Upper Egypt) and other parts of the country, sources describe an atmosphere of fear and tensions that has lasted for weeks with Copts, Catholics and Protestants living amid constant threats and threats of attacks. In view of the situation, many families have turned their homes into fortresses; others have simply abandoned their villages.

Yesterday, at Saft el-Laban (Minya) a group of Islamic extremists again attacked Coptic homes and shops, spreading terror in the population.

In an appeal, the Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II slammed the violence, calling on Muslims to help their Christian brothers. "Let us pray the One God, worshiped by Egyptians of all faiths, that He may shield our homeland from terrorism and violence."

For the sources, "The stories victims tell about attacks are frightening and weigh heavily on the hearts of Egyptians."

One attack involved taxi driver Rafaat Aziz Mina, who was slaughtered in an Alexandria street just because he was Christian. In his early twenties, he was killed on 16 August by a mob of Islamists who took to the streets after news reached them about the military's action against their camps in Cairo.

An amateur video shot by a resident shows a mob blocking cars, checking the passengers inside. When Aziz's taxi was stopped, one of the protesters noted a cross hanging from the rear view mirror. Quickly, the young man was dragged out and kicked, punched and beaten to death. For several minutes, the extremists defiled the lifeless body kicking and spitting on it, concluding their performance by cutting off his head, which they left on the sidewalk.

Other stories describe what happened between 14 and 17 August in Minya (Upper Egypt), the area most affected by the Islamist fury.  Here, where extremists devastated almost every church, a sense of siege continues to prevail.

"In one small village, islamists stabbed a 30 times Christian man who was trying to put out one of the many fires set in the local church," sources said. "The man survived but is in hospital in intensive care."

In Deir Muwass, also in Minya, 30 armed Islamists attacked the local water station and destroyed facilities supplying water to the villages. This means that residents will not be able to stop fire in case of new arson attacks.

In Assiut, also in Upper Egypt, residents are doing everything possible to help members of the local Protestant church devastated by Islamists. Christians said that a local Protestant clergyman and his wife were abducted.

"Acts of violence, kidnappings and attacks are so numerous that it is almost impossible to keep track," sources said.

Even big institutions like the Bibliotheca Alexandrina have not been spared. On 16 August during a demonstration organised by Islamists, a group of extremists broke off from the march and headed towards the library, which is among the most famous in the world, set on burning it.

The group was able to get into the library's courtyard where they were met by security guards. In the gunfight that ensued, several people were wounded.

According to Khaled Azab, head of the library's Media Department, Islamists devastated the conference centre and broke glass panes in the plaza. (S.C.)

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