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Muslim Cleric Calls for Jihad, Coptic Christians Attacked in Egypt

The caskets of some of the Coptic Christians killed after violence broke out in the evening of January 8, 2010, in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, in the main market and ‘Bein el Mehatat’ area, spreading as well to the neighboring town of Bahgoura. Muslim mobs used swords, butane gas cylinders for explosions and Molotov cocktails to loot and torch Coptic-owned homes, shops and cars

Middle-East journalist, Mary Abdelmassih, is reporting that on Friday, August 13, 2010, Sheikh Tobah, an Imam from the Egyptian village of Shimi, 170 kilometers — 105 miles — south of Giza, called during Muslim Friday prayers for “Jihad” against Christians living there.

“As a result the Christian Copts living in the village were assaulted over two consecutive days. Eleven Copts were hospitalized and many Coptic youths were arrested,” she said in a story for the Assyrian International News Agency (www.aina.org.)

Abdelmassih said that the assaults began a couple of hours after the Sheikh’s incitement.

“An argument between Copt Maher Amin, who was washing his taxi, and Mohamed Ali Almstaui, a Muslim extremist from the village, escalated into violence as Mohamad assaulted Maher,” she repoerted. “The altercation was stopped by bystanders.

“However, after the evening break of Ramadan fast, Ahmad, the brother of the perpetrator Mohamad, who is reported to belong to an extremist organization, together with twenty other men, went to Maher’s family home, breaking down the door and assaulting him and his family with batons, including his old mother and his paralyzed sister, injuring them and breaking their furniture.”

The journalist revealed that security forces came and took away the Christian victims and kept them at the station where, in spite of their wounds, they were pressured into accepting “reconciliation” with their attackers. None of the Muslims were arrested.

Saad Gamal, the Egyptian MP for Elsaff, phoned from Gaza, where he was on a visit, and gave orders to the police to force reconciliation on the Coptic parties.

“I was against reconciliation, because I know that the culprits know that they can assault Copts, and in the end, it will boil down to Copts giving up all their rights with the reconciliation sessions,” said Reverend Ezra Nageh of St. George’s Church in Elsaff.

“I was told by the security authorities that for the sake of the Holy month of Ramadan, everyone ought to make peace.”

The next day, Abdelmassih said, after the compulsory reconciliation between the Amin family and Almstaui family, a large number of Muslims were gathered by the Almstaui’s and attacked again the houses of the Copts, beat the inhabitants, and went to the fields and assaulted the Copts there also.

“Why should they not do that, when they are told that the MP will defend them,” said Rev. Ezra, adding that the police have yet to issue a report about the incidents, because, he claimed, they were afraid of the MP.

She quoted Ghali Tawfik, one of the Coptic victims, as saying, “We are forced into reconciliation and in less than 24 hours, we are assaulted again.”

In an aired audio interview with activist Wagih Yacoub, Maher Amin said, “They have humiliated us. We were beaten and we could not do anything about it. We are weak and helpless and have to accept reconciliation. They will next come to our homes and rape our women, and we will not be able to do anything about it.”

Abdelmassih went on to say that Karam Bebawy, another Coptic victim, said the arrival of strangers to the village two weeks ago “with long beards and wearing short dresses like the Islamists” appear to have have had a hand in poisoning the atmosphere in their village and inciting the Muslims against the Copts. He said that his Muslim neighbors have turned against him without reason since then.

Police, she said, have since released the assaulted Copts who were detained on Friday and arrested three new Coptic youths in their twenties on charges of having some old cases against them. They were transferred to [Egyptian] State Security. However, Rev. Ezra said that State Security is using the same old trick, which is detaining innocent Copts and fabricating crimes against them, to twist the arm of the church into accepting a forced reconciliation.

Abdelmassih stated that the village mayor, Sheikh Saad contacted Rev. Ezra on August 14, 2010, regarding a second reconciliation, but he flatly refused.

“They attack us today and force reconciliation on us. Are they waiting for us to be killed tomorrow and then they would think about the rule of law?” asked Reverend Ezra.

Note: The Copts, which constitute the largest religious minority in Egypt, claim descent from the ancient Egyptians; the word copt is derived from the Arabic word qubt (“Egyptian”) and the Coptic language is the last stage of the development of ancient Egyptian.

Dan Wooding, Assist News Service

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