Killings, violence common
Egyptian Violence:
A Brief Sampler
The following incident occurred in the village of "Ezbat Demian", in the 
region of "Al-Ibrahimeyya", Sharqueyya Governorate, some 150 kms to the
north east of Cairo.

On February 24th, 1996, the Church of the " Lady Virgin Mary" was burnt down 
by the Muslims of the village. This is the only church in this village as well as all 
the surrounding townships. The burning down of the church was not the only act 
of violence in this village or the surrounding villages. Forty one houses out of the 
75 Christian homes in the village of "Ezbat Demian" were burnt down, along with 
their cattle, crops and farm machinery. The remaining homes were raided and 
looted. Many Christians were injured and all of them lost their source of livings. 
To this day, many of those who lost their homes are sleeping in the streets. Seven 
other homes were burnt in the neighboring "Ezbet Ghali", and 12 others in "Ezbet 
Abd El-Malek". Along with these homes, shops owned by Christians were looted 
and burnt.

The violence erupted when the Muslims in the village and neighboring villages 
attempted to prevent the Church priest from repairing a room in the church. In 
Egypt, Christians and Jews are barred from making repairs to their Churches and 
Synagogues. Any major or minor repairs require a Presidential decree signed by 
the President of the Republic himself. Muslim mosques do not require such a 
decree. The Muslim clergy of the surrounding villages incited the violence when 
they circulated rumours that the room is being repaired to be converted into a 
Jewish Synagogue. During the Friday prayers they called on their audience to 
punish the Christians who will convert the village into "an infidel American Jewish 
Zionist" village.

The response of the government to this incident was an act of shame. Police units 
encircled the village to prevent reporters from approaching the village and taking 
photographs. No financial help or otherwise was offered. In Egypt, the concept of 
insurance is not wide spread, and those people have lost their living for good. It 
should be pointed out that the incidents were expected, and riot police were at 
hand when the looting and burning spree erupted, however they refused to 
interfere!

Subject: Ezbet El-Aqubat-Assiyut 960224

This was not the only act of violence in that week. On the same day, six Christians 
were killed in "Al-Badary", Assiyut Governorate, 500 kms south of Cairo. Assiyut 
is the hot bed of Islamic extremists. Those six people were

Zaki Tawfik Fayez. (48 years old) Boutros Nassif. (35 years old) Kamil Fathy. (38 
years old) Magdy Gabriel. (20 years old) Aziz Boutros Ghali. (50 years old) Kallin 
Mossaad Fan. (45 years old)

 Those people were working in their wood workshop during the evening of 
Saturday February 24th, when two gunmen stormed the workshop and fired their 
machine guns on the people there. The gunmen managed to escape unharmed, and 
they were not pursued by police. They are believed to be members of one of the 
terrorist Islamic groups active in the area.

On the night of February 18th, and in the same region of "al-Badary", two other 
Christians, "Awad Dawood Shihata" (65 years old) and his son were killed, again 
at the hands of Islamic extremists.

On January 4th, 1996, armed Muslim militants killed two Coptic Christian 
agricultural workers and dumped their bodies on a nearby railway track where they 
were crushed by a passing train near Assiyut in southern Egypt. In all the incidents 
conducted by Muslim militants, the government's response was merely symbolic. 
This lack of action conveyed to the extremists a message that the government 
tacitly approves of their actions. This view is shared by several opposition parties 
and have been voiced in their publications.

The escalation of violence in 1996 is a part of a long chain of intimidation of 
Christians in Egypt that spanned the recent memory.

The following is a partial list of the acts of violence against the Christians of Egypt 
in recent years:

Raids against Christian-owned pharmacies, video shops and clothing stores in 
Assiyut on the evening of November 9, 1992.

Murder of five Christians in the town of Tema in Sohag province on Oct. 15, 
1992. St. George Coptic Church, a Protestant Church and several Christian owned 
shops were set on fire on the same day.

Murder of 13 Christians by Muslim militants in "Manshiat Nasser" near Assiyut on 
May 4, 1994.


Return to Project Open Book