Christians feel “under siege” in Egypt after a series of attacks this summer, and continued difficulties faced by the community in building churches, the New York Times reports.
In Minya (Upper Egypt) alone, Copts continue to “suffer violence and humiliation”. Houses have been burned, Copts attacked on the streets and hate graffiti written on the walls of some churches, says the NYT, referring to 37 attacks counted by Coptic officials in the past three years.
In May, a Copt grandmother was stripped naked in public view in a village in Minya, after her son was rumoured to have had an affair with a Muslim woman. Later her attackers were released “for lack of evidence”.
“We are at a breaking point,” Bishop Makarios of Minya said. “People can’t put up with any more of this.”
“After that woman was stripped, we couldn’t be quiet,” Makarios said. What especially angered Copts, he added, “is that officials came out denying the incident.”
“In [several] attacks, every one of them is released, not a single one has been punished, and that’s what really upsets the Copts,” he said.
The NYT also highlights the many attacks (around 300) that followed the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Christians were scapegoated for their lack of enthusiasm for the elected Islamist president and their show of support, together with millions of Egyptian Muslims, for his military ousting.
Copts also complain of several hurdles put in the way of building churches in their home country. In the Minya bishopric alone, which has 100 churches, 150 villages have no church, but few new ones have opened.