Christian homes in Egypt have yet again been attacked by Muslim extremists, following rumours that a building under construction would be used as a church. On Saturday (16 July) a mob burned down five houses belonging to Christians in the village of Abu Yacoub, in the Minya Governorate south of Cairo. At the time of writing police have arrested 15 people following the attack, although no one has been charged.
The attack is the third within a month, following similar violence against Christian homes in the village of Kom Al Lufi, also in Minya, on 29 June and in Qaryat Al Bayda near Alexandria on 17 June. In all three villages, false rumours that a building under construction would be used as a Christian place of worship were claimed to have incited the violence. The construction of churches is strictly regulated in Egypt under a statute which dates back to 1856 when the country was part of the Ottoman Empire, although a change to the law which would make it easier for believers to obtain permission to build churches has been proposed in the Egyptian parliament.
The Christian minority can have great difficulty securing compensation following such attacks and communities are often pressured into accepting “reconciliation” meetings with Muslim community leaders as an alternative to proper judicial procedure. The normal outcome of such meetings is that the Christian victims have to make further concessions and the perpetrators of the violence go unpunished. The Christian community in Qaryat Al Bayda has been forced into such a meeting.