01/21/2012, 00.00
EGYPT

Egyptian extremists against Copts, two wounded, houses burned and churches attacked

The Salafis attack the religious minority to prevent them from voting. In the raid-Rahmaniya Kebly a boy was hit by a bullet, one man has facial injuries. Police and firefighters intentional delay their intervention. In the province of Qaliubia a Christian place of worship attacked.
Cairo (AsiaNews) - Anti-Christian violence continues in Egypt, according to local sources, the episodes are linked to the attempt of fundamentalist Islamic fringe - Salafis - to block the vote of the religious minority in the next election. On 19 January, a mob attacked the Coptic Christian community of the village of Kebly-Rahmaniya, near the town of Nag Hammadi, Qena governorate, Upper Egypt. The assailants, chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) attacked and burned down houses, huts, shops and businesses (click here to see the video). The raid was also caused two injuries: a 16 year old boy, struck by a bullet and a 40 year old man with facial injuries.

Witnesses quoted by Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) report that Egyptian security forces did not intervene promptly to repel the onslaught and defend the Christians. Even the teams of firefighters delayed their intervention, arriving only 90 minutes after the assault, and when most of the buildings were already in flames. A source adds that a hut belonging to a Coptic Christian was burned to make room for the construction of a mosque. Moreover in the area there are now 300 Muslim places of worship, compared to only one Christian church even though Christians are 50% of the local population.

According to the Copts, the anti-Christian violence is related to the upcoming parliamentary elections: the Salafis, in fact, want to prevent the religious minority from voting which, with its 20 thousand members, can shift the balance of power in the area. The Copts are close to the Muslim moderate wing, which opposes the Islamist front. A witness confirmed that "no Copt from Rahmaniya-Kebly could vote" and that "the Salafis will win the elections."

In a second incident, which also occurred January 19, the Salafists and Muslim Brotherhood - together - broke into the church of Abu Makka in Bahteem, Qaliubia, informing members of the congregation that the place of Christian worship is illegal. An extremist also said that the 1,300 square meter building "is perfect for building a mosque and a hospital." The local bishop was to inaugurate the church and celebrate the first Mass, has suspended all ceremonies for security reasons, sparking the anger and disappointment of the whole congregation.

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