Friday, March 26, 2010

Church in problems in Egypt

Egyptian Christians have requested our prayers following violent incidents against Christians in Marsa Matrouh, near the Libyan border, and in Luxor, southern Egypt.

The violence in Marsa Matrouh occurred on Friday 12th March. The incident started at a church which also hosts a clinic and other social service activities. Local Muslims launched an attack in which 28 people were injured (24 Chrisians and four Muslims), two of them seriously, and in which 17 houses, 12 cars and two motorcycles owned by Christians were destroyed or damaged. The violence was reportedly encouraged by the leader of a local mosque because building work on church property was deemed to be blocking a road.

Police took several hours to disperse the crowd and bring the sitution under control. Many Christians had taken refuge inside the church, 16 of whom were subsequently taken to a police station and detained. Four were released the next day because they were minors. The 12 adults remain detained whilst claims of riotous behaviour are investigated.The Egyptian Christian newspaper Watani quoted a church leader as saying, "Even if the Church had violated the law - which is not the case - then the law should have been upheld and legal procedures ought to have been taken. It should never have been left to a fanatic preacher to take the law in his own hands, inciting such violence, damage and pain."

On Thursday 18th March another incident occurred in Luxor. A large-scale redevelopment project is currently underway which involves the demolition of various buildings, including a Presbyterian church compound. The owners of these buildings are currently negotiating with the authorities over compensation payments. Although negotiations with the church are still ongoing, several buildings within the church compound were demolished, including the pastor's residence. The pastor and his family were forcibly evicted from their home and the pastor was assaulted. Egyptian church leaders are organising a petition to protest the mistreatment of the pastor. (c) MEC

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