7-August-2013 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Violence Against Copts on the Rise in Egypt

Tensions Increase As Al-Qaeda Leaders Message Incites Violence Against Christians

CAIRO, August 07, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Violence against Christians in Egypt is on the rise after several extremist sites and blogs broadcasted a video message by Ayman al Zawahiri, leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization. The message accuses Coptic Catholics of plotting the overthrow of Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi with Americans and the Egyptian military.

According to Fides News Agency, the physician-theologian Egyptian terrorist blamed the Copts of having supported Morsi's removal with the intent to "create a Coptic State in southern Egypt". In past days, assaults on churches and houses of the Copts occurred throughout the Country.

Some episodes have been reported in Assiut and Sohag. But the most serious cases relate to some villages in the area around Minya. In the village of Bani Ahmed, on Saturday evening, August 3 gangs of Islamist extremists caused the flight of the entire population and the burning of at least 9 homes and 24 shops owned by Christians as well as trucks, buses and cars burned in the streets.

According to the version provided by Anba Makarios, Coptic Orthodox Auxiliary Bishop in Minya, the pretext for the raid was a verbal altercation between some Islamists and the Christian owner of a bar who in his bar was listening to an eulogistic army song. The intervention of the security forces occurred when the village had already been put to fire and sword. The Christians of the village, along with a few police units available, formed a garrison of defense in front of the local church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Meanwhile, the violence has spread in the surrounding villages. Fides reported that n the village of Reeda, to stir up the ferocity, the Islamic extremists spread the false rumor that Christians had tried to set fire to a mosque, causing the assault against the local Protestant church, whose facade was severely damaged.

On Monday evening, August 5, in Cairo, several Coptic Christians - some of whom are linked to the Union Maspero Youth - staged a demonstration in front of the Supreme Court to ask for judicial measures targeted for the violences against the Copts and the arrest of inspirators and perpetrators of acts of sectarian violence. "Christians", Anba Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, Coptic-Catholic Bishop of Minya told Fides "are likely to once again become the scapegoat of the tensions in the Country. I understand that there are many people who are disappointed and hurt. Christians are patient. It is now clear that the Islamist violence will be addressed more and more against Copts. Appropriate countermeasures are necessary, for example by increasing the protection of churches by security forces".

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