Saturday, November 22, 2008

Egypt: Christians Arrested, Shops Looted in Village

Authorities in an Egyptian village arrested 50 Coptic Christians, whose shops were then looted, to pacify Muslims following violence that erupted on Nov. 4 over a Christian boy’s unwitting break with local custom. Muslim villagers attacked the homes and shops of Coptic Christians in violence-prone Tayyiba after 14-year-old Copt Mina William failed to dismount his donkey as a funeral procession passed. Members of the procession reportedly beat William before completing the procession.

The processional members later attacked homes and shops of local Copts before police broke up the crowd with tear gas. A source told Compass that police arrested a disproportionate amount of Christians to create a false sense of equanimity and to pressure Christians into “reconciliation” with the attackers so the Copts would not prosecute them.

Police in the village have since harassed Copts through intimidation, “fines” and racketeering, taking an estimated $50,000 from village Christians, sources said. Once police lifted the curfew, Coptic shopkeepers returned to their stores to discover that they had been looted. “It is unreasonable that a mistake by some 14-year-old should lead to all that rampage,” a village Coptic priest known as Father Augustinus told weekly newspaper Watani. “Something ought to be done to halt all this.” Source: Compass Direct News.

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