Christians Homes Set on Fire in Muslim Mob Attacks on Believers in Egypt

A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017.
A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Three homes were burned down and eight Christians were injured when a Muslim mob attacked a Christian community in the town of Kom el-Loufy in Upper Egypt while on their way home from a prayer gathering, a leading persecution watchdog has reported.

According to International Christian Concern, eyewitnesses have said that a large group of radical Muslims attacked the Christian community last Thursday — one day before Good Friday — soon after Christians held a prayer service at a local Christian man's home.

The witnesses recalled that the attack occurred around 10 a.m. as the worship service was letting out.

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"Then, a mob of Muslims gathered and began to attack us and our homes," an unnamed witness detailed. "They hurled stones at our homes and set fire on three houses owned by Christians named Issa Saroufim, Marris Botros and his father, Faris Faris."

The witnesses added that a Christian woman broke her arm, while another woman suffered a broken leg and six Christian men suffered various other injuries.

"We asked local security authorities to grant us a permit [to] hold prayers and they agreed," the source added. "They granted us a permit to hold these prayers and the security forces came to secure the mass."

Another witness told ICC, that last Thursday's attack occurred in front of security forces.

"All these attacks occurred despite the presence of police in the village. There are eight big cars from the central security and more than 15 police cars," the witnesses claimed. "I don't know why the police haven't arrested anyone who attacked us until now."

The attack on the Christian community in Kom el-Loufy, which consists of over 1,800 Christians and doesn't have a local church, comes just four days after two churches in northern Egypt were victimized by twin suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State that killed 45 and injured 126 on Palm Sunday.

Christians throughout Egypt have faced increased persecution over the last year.

Not only were the churches in Alexandria and Tanta attacked last Sunday, but hundreds of Christian families in the Sinai town of Al-Arish were forced to flee in February after a seven Christians in the town were murdered in less than a month.

Additionally, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on the St. Peter and St. Paul's Church in Cairo last December that claimed the lives 29 people.

"The attacks on Egypt's Christian community continued despite the state of emergency declared by the central government," ICC regional manager William Stark said in a statement.

"Yesterday, an entire community of Christians was attacked while returning home from a prayer service. Most is the fact that the attack took place under the watch of security forces and still none of the attackers has been arrested," he added. "Egypt must do more to protect its Christian community or else attacks like this and the bombings we witnessed last Sunday will continue."

As previously reported, lack of devotion to protecting the Christian community from radical extremism is not a problem unique to security forces in Upper Egypt.

Christians who fled Sinai after the series of Christian murders in February told rights activists that they felt security forces were "apathetic" when it came to protecting the Christian community from extremist violence.

According to Open Doors USA, Egypt ranks as the 21st worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith Follow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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