Egypt (MNN) — A handful of Christians could face charges following a recent attack in Minya, Egypt. On November 25, a large Muslim mob attacked believers’ homes and property because a young Christian man allegedly insulted Islam on Facebook. Middle East Concern’s Daniel Hoffman says the believer lives in a different town hundreds of miles to the north of Barsha village.
A Muslim neighbor protected the man’s family from rioters who targeted his house, CBN reports. Police arrested 100 Muslims and Christians following the attack and are now submitting several of them to local courts for consideration.
“Police detain people from both sides just to make sure they are not accused of being biased,” Hoffman says.
“Normally, [police] would release everyone involved [but] in this case, 20 Muslims have been referred to the public prosecutor’s office. About 15 Christians were referred as well to decide whether charges will be brought against them. But no decision has been made.”
Unfortunately, unfounded attacks on believers are pretty common in Egypt. Hoffman explains why.
Rumors, lies, and accusations
As described here, Christians are free to dwell in Egypt, but believers face intense opposition if they try to share their faith. Sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians usually springs from one of three sources, Hoffman says. More details here.
“Either there is a rumor that a Christian has done something insulting to Islam, or there is an allegation that Christians are trying to open an unlicensed church in the village,” Hoffman says.
“Muslim people object and usually attack the building which [is rumored] to be turned into an unlicensed church,” he continues, describing the second reason as most frequent.
“The third cause for these attacks [can be] a rumor that there is an illicit relationship between a Muslim and a Christian; usually [it’s] the Christian men who would have an illicit relationship with the Muslim woman.”
Although unfounded, accusations like these often leave Christians paying for a crime they did not commit.
“Historically, these situations are resolved by what is called a ‘reconciliation meeting’ where Christian leaders and the Muslim leaders of the village come together. The Christians would accept that they did something to upset the Muslims and apologize; they may be charged a fine,” Hoffman explains.
“The Muslims would not face any negative consequences, so that has reinforced the idea that a Muslim can do these kinds of attacks with impunity.”
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“Try and encourage your local representatives to take an interest in the persecution of Christians internationally, and to support resolutions that will come up in Congress,” Hoffman suggests.
Header image is a representative 2010 photo of an Egyptian policeman. (Photo courtesy of Silar/Wikimedia Commons)