» 06/24/2011 15:55 EGYPT Hundreds of Salafists attack a Coptic church in Upper Egypt Armed with sticks, Islamic extremists besieged in the church of Saint George in Bani Ahmed, in the Archdiocese of Minya, for five hours threatening to kill the pastor. The church had already been attacked on March 23. The violence was provoked by an attempt to restore the building.
Cairo (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of Salafists yesterday attacked the Coptic Church of St. George in the village of Bani Ahmed (Minya - Upper Egypt) and attempted to kill Fr. George Thabet. The news was reported this morning. According to local sources, the extremists turned up outside the building armed with sticks, telling the faithful to deliver the priest who was celebrating mass. The army intervened only after five-hour siege, and the priest was escorted out of the village.
This is the second assault suffered by the community of Bani Ahmed, in a few months. On 23 March, the Salafists stopped the restoration of the church and obtained the expulsion of Fr Thabet from the village.
Fr. Rafic Greich, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, told AsiaNews that the Salafists are against the restoration of the church and attacked the building when their suspicions were aroused by the removal of some vestments to a parish warehouse and the return of the parish priest. The priest said that the extremists do not tolerate the presence of Christians and find any excuse to destroy the churches.
Today, the Archdiocese of Minya has issued a statement reiterating its concern over the incident and denouncing the "return of the Salafists to the village." The Archdiocese accused the government of the military of not doing enough to protect Christians.