Arson mobs in Egypt turn rage on Christians The Times, August 18, 2013
WHEN a furious Muslim mob burst into the largely Christian area around his home in Minya, 150 miles south of Cairo, Alexander Tawss, 60, a barber, grabbed his gun and fired in the air to try to scare them away.
It proved a fatal error.
“They took offence at the fact that a Christian fired in the air against them, and they stormed his home and shot him to death before taking his body away and hacking it into parts,” Ayoub Youssef, 40, a Coptic Christian priest, said yesterday.
Then the mob dumped Tawss’s remains in a graveyard.
“We have not been able to visit the graveyard to collect his body parts and to this day he has not been given a burial,” Youssef said
“It is a ploy to get his family or any one of us to go to the graveyard and then kill us, too,” he said.
“We have been living in fear since Wednesday, locking ourselves down in our homes unable to leave even to go out and buy medicine.”
The rampage in Minya, which started with the looting and destruction of a fifth- century monastery and the burning of Youssef’s church, was one of the most brutal of a series of attacks by Muslim Brotherhood supporters on Egypt’s 8m-strong Coptic community that has left Christians under siege.
It came, said the priest, after imams took to minarets calling for jihad, following Wednesday’s crackdown in Cairo on supporters of Mohamed Morsi. Within minutes, 200-300 armed supporters of the Brotherhood, together with the more extreme salafist Islamists, attacked the monastery and church and set it ablaze.
“Then they turned their wrath against about 20 Christian homes scattered around the area,” Youssef said.
The armed men, chanting “Islamiya, Islamiya” (Islamic, Islamic), looted several homes and set them on fire before arriving at Tawss’s house.
Youssef said neither the police, army nor security forces had offered protection.
Mina Thabet, an activist with the Maspero Youth Union, a Christian rights group, said that by Friday at least 32 churches had been “completely destroyed, burnt or looted” in eight locations across the country.
Another 19 were attacked and partly damaged. In addition, 39 houses owned by Copts were burnt and looted, together with 75 shops, 15 pharmacies, three hotels and numerous cars and buses.
Christians, who make up 10 per cent of Egypt’s population, had already been targeted by Islamists following the military takeover that ousted Morsi.
Leaders of their community fear they will face the same kind of persecution as Christian minorities in Iraq and Syria. The Brotherhood accuses the Christians of supporting the military takeover.”