FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Christine Tadros Phone: 202.737.3660
Washington D.C. (11/12/2003) - On Friday, November 7, 2003, numerous Christian individuals and their properties were attacked following a disagreement with their Muslim neighbors over plans for a church. The ensuing conflict led to the injury and hospitalization of numerous Copts (Egyptian Christians) and the destruction and burning of several Coptic homes.
The disagreement appears to have developed over plans to convert a small Christian library into a church. After Friday prayers, sources report to the U.S. Copts Association that the electric power sources had been cut off, first in the region of the village most heavily populated with Copts, then ultimately in the entire village. Shortly, thereafter, a large Muslim crowd converged and commenced destruction of Coptic property. The library itself was attacked and its foundation compromised. As the violence increased, four Coptic homes were burned, eight other homes burglarized, Coptic cropland uprooted, and seven Coptic businesses attacked and looted.
In the ensuing violence, Coptic men and women were violently assaulted, resulting in the injury of eleven Christians, a number of whom were subsequently hospitalized.
Christians reportedly called police officials fifteen minutes
following the commencement of the assault. Police officials, only a 30-minute trip away, arrived several hours later, after much destruction had been wreaked upon the Christian community.
While some reports have issued statements regarding the arrest of a few individuals, the matter has characteristically received little attention from local and national authorities. Police intervention in matters relating to the Copts has been repeatedly inadequate, often failing to contain the violence targeted towards the community.
Commenting on the situation, Michael Meunier, President of the U.S. Copts Association, remarked "This incident typifies the discriminatory sentiment prevalent among factions of the Egyptian populace and the characteristically inadequate intervention of the
country's police officials in matters threatening Copts and their property."