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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Copts in Upper Egypt attacked, beat, plundered

Translated by Coptic Solidarity

Christian Copts in Upper Egypt are under attack, hours after a call for their eradication appeared in the form of leaflets calling on Muslims to kill Copts, specifically naming regions of Upper Egypt.

A report by Fady Talaat, for Al Akhbar News, published August 14, has the details. In Al Gallaweya Village, Sohag, Upper Egypt, Christians are being beaten, their stores destroyed, and their properties plundered. The attackers are declaring that “any Christian who dares to leave his house will be killed”; and the Copts are complaining that the police only arrive after the damage has been completely done.
Nageh Hozar, one of the attacked victims now lying in the hospital said that a known felon, who is also a fugitive living in the village, named Mo'tassem Sedky Rashwan, came to a supermarket owned by his brother Fady Hozar to buy cigarettes. He took the cigarettes and refused to pay for them. Instead, he asked Fady to pay him EGP 50 as “tribute.” When the latter refused they had a dispute. The criminal, then, left and came back with his thug brothers, cousins and friends. Zaki explained that the whole gang started beating him up along with his brothers Thomas and Fady Hozar and others, using sticks and canes, leaving them dangerously injured.

They further set four Coptic stores on fires, and looted hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of merchandise. They also attacked and robbed their houses, and even stole their ownership contracts. The gang further destroyed one car and three motorcycles, and the home doors of the Christian village inhabitants.

Zaki stated that their persecutors warned Christians from leaving their homes, promising death to whoever dared try. They said they did not want to see a single Christian in the street, which made many Christians lock themselves in. Zaki explained that in spite of the police presence in the village, Christians cannot go out because they are surrounded by criminals with machine guns. Zaki also stated that the police came too late, after the job was complete, and none of the perpetrators was arrested. Instead, the police arrested three Christians for investigation even before their treatment was complete in the hospital, asking "whatever happened to justice?"

According to another Al Akhbar News report, last Tuesday also saw "hundreds of Christians gathered before the Asyut Security Directorate in Manfalut Municipality, demanding that police protect them, their children, and houses from a gang attacking their homes and imposing tributes on them."
Led by two men Mustafa al-Sissi and Mustafa al-Asmar, "the gang kidnapped the son of a Coptic Christian last week and did not release him until his family paid a ransom of 3,000 EGP." Most recently, the Muslim gang "attacked the house of Romani Murad al-Gawli [another Copt], releasing several gunshots in the air, and threatening him either to pay or die."

The gang, which comes from a town called Abdul-Rasul, "picked this specific village because Copts form 80% of its inhabitants."

The report concludes with an all too familiar note: "After numerous calls for help" and after "filing several reports in vain," the Christian villagers decided to demonstrate.

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