Set to be built in the honour of the Egyptian Copts murdered by ISIS in Libya, a church building site has said to have been attacked by angry residents.
It was dark day for all Egyptians when news broke of the beheading of several Coptic Egyptians in Libya in February. Arguably no community was hit harder by the news than those in the Our Village, a small village in Minya governorate, where 13 of the victims hailed from. To commemorate their loss the Christian community in the village got an approval to build a church in their honour, however this decision has sparked anger among some Muslims who allegedly on Friday attacked the construction site resulting in as many as seven injured.
According to social media users and Daily News Egypt, a group of mostly young Muslims held a demonstration outside the church’s construction site after Friday prayers. Allegedly the angry group chanted that there was no way the church would be built. The demonstration passed without incident, however later that evening a smaller number of radical protestors attacked the church with Molotov cocktails, set a car on fire, and left seven people injured.
حصل هجوم علي كنيسة السيدة العذراء بالعور التي استشهد منها ٢١ قبطيا في ليبيا ... اوعا حد يقولي ان داعش مش عايشين وسطينا— Mena Fayek Gayed (@MenaFayekGayed) March 27, 2015
Following the attack, Minya’s governor held a meeting on Saturday with all residents, looking for a peaceful solution. Allegedly an initial agreement was reached to change the church’s position from the village entrance according to a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) Ishak Ibrahim who spoke to the Daily News Egypt.
Ibrahim explains that 13 of the beheaded Coptic workers were from the village, and that during their funeral, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi agreed for the church to be built.
Since the Ottoman era, the restrictions placed on building churches have been very limiting and requires direct approval from the president. However, In 2014 the newly adopted Egyptian constitution looked to ease these restricition stating that: “Freedom of practicing religious rituals and building worship places for the Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) is a right regulated by the law.”
Photo courtesy of Reuters.