The head of the Christian community in Egypt’s Alminia County, where Christian residents were attacked by a Muslim mob, has called on the authorities to bring all the culprits to justice.
Father Makarios told the Egyptian press that the violent clashes started after Ashraf Attieh, a young Copt, was rumored to be in a relationship with a Muslim woman. The minister added that Attieh was forced out of the village by threats, after which his father filed a police complaint last Thursday.
The next day, he said, some 300 people, armed with different weapons, attacked, raided and set ablaze seven houses owned by Copts.
“During the riot, a Coptic woman was undressed and paraded naked on the streets, until the police arrived two hours later and arrested six suspects,” he said. “I hope the authorities won’t make do with being observers and make sure all the culprits are arrested.”
The victim, Souad Sabet, also spoke to the media. She said they had endured arson threats before the event.
During the attack, when her husband was assaulted and she tried to call for help, “they shut my mouth, undressed me and dragged me on the street. They beat me and undressed me completely. I filed a complaint to God about them.”
Sabet was critical of the way police handled the situation. “When I went to the police station in Alminia and told them what had happened they asked me whether I wanted to be responsible for sectarian violence, and kicked me out of the station.”
“We love everybody,” she said. “We make no distinction between Muslims and Christians. I’d like to thank President Abdel Fatah Sisi, we elected him to protect us.”
President Sisi has also issued a condemnation, and instructed the authorities to take whatever steps necessary to guarantee the security of the people and bring the culprits to justice.
“The President ordered the governor of the county and the military to make sure all the burned houses are restored within 30 days, and the residents will incur no costs,” the presidential statement said. “These unfortunate events absolutely do not reflect the glorious culture of the Egyptian people, the progenitors of human civilization and fighters for peace. The unity of the Egyptian people has become a world-renowned example of national reason and a true guarantee for our beloved homeland.”
The media has been busy pouring cold water on the heated sentiments. One of the leaders of the Coptic Church said on television that the events were the result of herd mentality and that Muslims and Christians have been living side by side in Egypt for centuries.
He lamented the absence of a national program to bolster national unity and said he hoped this crisis would become a springboard for closer cooperation between the different sectors of the Egyptian people.