Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Egypt Coptic Christians restrain anger

29 August 2013, 17:44

Minya - Coptic Christians in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya are managing to restrain their anger despite a wave of devastating attacks on their churches and institutions by enraged Islamists.

Tensions are still running high more than two weeks after the attacks in the city at least 250km south of Cairo but there have been no calls for vengeance, nor any fiery rhetoric.

"I say to the Islamists who attacked us that we are not afraid of their violence and their desire to exterminate the Copts," said Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, the archbishop of Minya.

"If we are not hitting back, it is not because we are afraid, but because we are sensible," he said.

Enraged by a bloody crackdown mid-August on protests in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Islamists lashed out at Coptic Christians in Minya, accusing them of backing the military that toppled the head of state.

The Copts, who account for some 10 million out of Egypt's population of 80 million, had already suffered persecution in recent years.

But they say they have never such a systematic campaign as this.

"We were expecting a violent reaction but not on this scale, which suggests it was well prepared," the archbishop said.

In the greater Minya province, where Christians account for about one-fifth of the five million population, Christians say they have suffered systematic and coordinated violence since mid-August.


According to Human Rights Watch, more than 40 churches have been attacked in Egypt since 14 August, when the security forces launched a bloody crackdown against demonstrations demanding the return of Morsi, who was toppled by the military on 3 July.

The attacks have been concentrated in Minya and Assiut, in central Egypt, where attackers torched 11 and eight churches respectively, the US-based rights group said.

Islamists accused Egypt's Copts of throwing their weight behind the military coup that removed from power the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails.

The perception was fuelled by the fact that Coptic Pope Tawadros II appeared with army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he spoke on television to announce Morsi's removal from office.

At the ruins of Saint Moses' church in Minya, Bassam Youssef, a Copt, despairs at the sight of the rounded building with its clock tower, now ravaged by fire.

"Some 500 extremists attacked the building and set it on fire," Youssef recalled.

"We did not expect such violence," he added, showing pictures of the church before its destruction.

"Look at this beautiful mosaic that decorated the interior balcony, there's nothing left and we will need five to six years to rebuild everything."

The centre of Minya is a tangle of shops bearing a mix of Christian and Muslim names, and home to both churches and mosques, some just dozens metres from each other.

Compassion for the attackers

Not far from Saint Moses' church, Um Saleh watched over what is left of the Coptic school, which was also set alight.

"We heard them calling for jihad [holy war] and we rushed out of the area, terrified," she recalled.

From one of the windows of the school, it is possible to see the scorched dome of the Prince Theodore church. Several metres away, a Coptic orphanage has also been burned.

"May God forgive you despite what you have done," reads a slogan daubed on the walls of the orphanage, now empty of its young wards.

At the headquarters of the Jesuit Brothers' development association in the town, Father Biman is working to clear the debris after the attacks.

Fire destroyed the library, a nursery and the offices, but spared the nearby church of Saint Mark, which has stood there for 125 years.

"I am very angry," Biman says, before regaining his composure. "I also have compassion for the attackers, who have been brainwashed". He points to his T-shirt, which has a slogan on it calling to spread love around the world.

Maria Hanaa, an official at the Jesuit association, sees the attacks as a direct result of the community's antipathy towards Morsi.

"We demonstrated against president Morsi and it is the first time we did it, and we paid the price," she says.

"We marched because we felt that we were going to lose the country. We thought that they were going to bring justice, but we saw that they were only looking for power".



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM beats Jubilee in 3 by-electio...

ODM dominates Jubilee Party in by elections.

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Kenyan ivory seized in Vietnam

Vietnamese authorities have seized 1 tonne of ivory smuggled from Kenya, the fifth such seizure in the past month. Read more...

Submitted by
Cyril Mike Odhiz
Kenyans furious on young lady aft...

A young Kenyan woman is the talk of town after she posted a photo with her elderly lover after a round of steamy sex, or so the photo suggested.  Read more...

Submitted by
Kiplangat langat
Uhuru could be a one term Presid...

Bomet governor Isaac Ruto has said that President Uhuru Kenyatta could be a one term President if he fails to increase allocations to the counties. Read more...

Submitted by
Mody Sammy
35 year old farmer a new milliona...

A 35 year old farmer from Mpeketoni Lamu county has become the latest millionaire in town as she became winner in the ongoing ‘Shinda Mamili na Story Ibambe’. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Leave your past relationship bagg...

Leave your past relationship baggage at the door when you start a new relationship. Read more...