- (Photo: Reuters)
After security forces stormed the village of Delga earlier this week and arrested a number of extremists wanted for assaulting police and vandalizing local churches, Egypt's Islamic party Gamaat Islamiya threatened to target Copts in retaliation.
In a statement issued by its political arm, the Building and Development Party, it said: "Any harassment to Delga's locals will ignite a state of ill-feelings towards its Christian locals, which needs to be prevented."
"The crackdown on Delga was made due to its anti-coup stance … ," according to the statement. "This campaign has proved that all claims of weapons stashed in the village are lies, as according to its announcement there was little or no resistance."
"The Islamic current has been freed of charges accusing it of assaulting Christians; as the attacks were made by thugs who have strong ties to security services," the statement continued.
"These campaigns on villages that oppose the coup, in order to terrorize them, have failed. Instead, Delga's locals demonstrated the same day the village was stormed, making it a symbol of steadfastness," the statement concluded.
Copts in the village of Delga had been blockaded in by Islamists, who harass them, attack their homes and businesses and force them to pay "Jiziya," a religious extortion tax. Several homes, and churches were also been looted and burned.
The conflict has resulted in the emigration of more than half of Delga Copts to other cities and villages since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi and the breakup of the Brotherhood sit-ins in Rabaa Adaweya Square in Cairo and Nahda Square in Giza on August 14.