Violence against Egyptian Christians erupted again on September 29 in the village of Zakaria in the upper province of Minya when a Muslim family accused a Christian man of having an illicit relationship with a Muslim woman.
About half of the 4,000 people living in Zakaria are Christians, while the other half are Muslims.
A report from Assyrian International News (AINA) states the Bishop of Minya, Anba Makarios, said Muslim villagers assembled near the family home of a Christian man, 22-year old Kirollos Sabet, broke into their furniture and household appliances store, looted its contents, and then destroyed it. In addition, the Muslim villagers reportedly looted an adjacent electrical appliances warehouse and a family-owned taxi.
Security forces attempted to restore order, but Muslims using loud speakers were reportedly inciting sedition. Radical Muslims also aleegedly prowled the streets of Zakaria, throwing stones at Coptic homes and calling for revenge.
Major General Osama Metwally, director of Minya security, supervised a “reconciliation” meeting Sunday with the heads of Muslim and Christian families in the region, some mayors, and the families of Sabet and the Muslim woman in question.
According to AINA, no church representative was present at the meeting, the outcome of which urged Sabet to pay the amount of 300,000 Egyptian pounds and the Muslim woman 150,000 pounds as penalty for their illicit relationship. However, because the Muslim woman is poor, the decision was to add her fine to the fine of Sabet.
When Sabet and his family protested the decision, the arbitrators reportedly expelled him and his five brothers from the village.
Bishop Makarios warned that Muslim villagers are now prowling the village, chanting against the Copts demanding the burning of their churches, homes, and stores.
“A state of extreme tension prevails in the Zakaria village and is spreading to neighboring villages, which could result in a new wave of violence against the Copts,” said the bishop.