Soad Thabet and Bishop Makarius of the Coptic Church.

Three men are scheduled to stand trial in an Egyptian court for publicly stripping a 70-year-old Christian woman following rumours that her son had an affair with a married Muslim woman.

Following the rumour and threats made to him and his family, Ashraf Attiya, a then-31-year-old Coptic Christian trader, fled the village of al-Karam, 250km south of Cairo, in May 2016.

A mob then turned to his elderly parents.

They injured his father and dragged his wife, Mrs Soad Thabet, out of their house. They publicly stripped her and beat her before she was rescued by a neighbour.

Several Coptic homes were also burned.

The incident caused widespread condemnation, including a public apology from the President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Initially the charges against the men were dropped over a reported lack of evidence but following an appeal by Mrs Thabet’s legal team, the case was re-opened in February 2017.

The Coptic news service Watani International reports that the criminal court in the Minya governorate south of Cairo plans to merge the trial of the three men with a case against 25 Muslim villagers in connection with the burning of the homes in the village. The 25 face charges of arson and terrorising civilians.

Hany Magdy, a lawyer representing Mrs Thabet, told Watani that hearing the two cases together “would probably work in favour of the Coptic victims”.

A ruling is expected in August.

Attiya was sentenced to one year in prison for the alleged relationship with the Muslim woman. He is contesting the court ruling. The woman’s estranged husband, Nazir Ahmed, is one of the primary defendants in the unified case concerning the 2016 attacks in Minya.

More from Egypt

Protestant leader rejects community reconciliation system

Copt killer’s death sentence confirmed

Coptic teacher charged with contempt of religion for questions about Muhammad

Egypt’s elections and the man dividing the country’s Copts