Police in Egypt’s Minya governorate closed another church and arrested 15 people in the village of Ezbet Zakariya last Friday (27 October) after a mob attacked Copts with stones and destroyed some of their property.
The violence appears to have been fuelled by a flyer that was distributed on Friday, saying “we opened the church in spite of you”, referring to a recent renovation of the old building the Coptic community has used for their worship gatherings for decades, reports Coptic news site Watani.
The text made it appear the Copts were behind it but locals told Watani that “no Copt in his right mind would antagonise the Muslims by drafting such a [flyer]”.
A local source told World Watch Monitor the flyer was circulated in three streets leading to Rahman Mosque in the morning before Friday prayer. He also said those arrested were “innocent”, as the Coptic community “knows the extremists who planted the flyers and who escaped when police arrived”.
Four other Coptic village churches were forcibly closed last weekend – three of them in Minya, the fourth in Sohag, south of Minya.
World Watch Monitor has reported regularly about Coptic communities being denied the right to build a church and also how, in rural communities, rumours about the building of a new church have often caused Muslims to riot.