For the second time in two weeks, Christian homes in Egypt have been attacked by Muslim extremists. On Wednesday 29 June, a crowd set fire to the houses of four Christian families in the village of Kom Al Lufi, 150 miles / 250 kilometres south of Cairo, following false rumours that one of the houses undergoing construction was to be converted into a church. The attack is a repeat of an incident which occurred on 17 June in the village of Qaryat Al Bayda near Alexandria, 250 miles north of Kom Al Lufi.
The rioters prevented a fire engine from reaching the burning houses. Although three people have been arrested by police no charges have so far been brought. Prior to the violence, the village mayor, along with the police, made the believers sign a pledge that the buildings they were constructing would not be used for religious rituals, but despite this pledge the houses were still attacked.
There is no church in Kom Al Lufi, even though the Christian community applied for a licence to build one ten years ago. As in so many parts of Egypt, believers have to travel to another place to worship. The law requiring personal approval by the head of state for constructing new church buildings dates back to a statute introduced in 1856, when Egypt was part of the Ottoman Empire.