Coptic Christians Fight to Save Church From Being Destroyed in Egypt

Relatives and neighbours of Egyptian Coptic men killed in Libya chant pro-army slogans during a protest while carrying crosses in al-Our village, in Minya governorate, south of Cairo, February 16, 2015. Thousands of traumatized mourners gathered on Monday at the Coptic church in al-Our village south of Cairo, struggling to come to terms with the fate of compatriots who paid a gruesome price for simply seeking work in Libya. Thirteen of 21 Egyptians beheaded by Islamic State came from the impoverished dirt lanes of al-Our, violence that prompted the Egyptian military to launch an air strike on Islamic State militant targets in Libya. | (Photo: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih)

An Egyptian priest is calling on president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to protect his historic church from being demolished by a Muslim judge and his two sons who are trying to steal the land to build a shopping mall.

The U.S.-based Christian persecution monitoring agency International Christian Concern is reporting that the Greek Orthodox Church of Virgin Mary in Rashid City of the Beheira governorate continues to be victimized by attacks from a retired Muslim judge named Mohamed Mostafa Kamel Tirana and his two sons, who are also judges.

Since 2008, the family of judges have attempted numerous times to use their legal clout to take ownership of the church and its property. Although the church dates back to the 1840s, the judge maintains that the plot that the church sits on is his family's ancestral land.

According to ICC, the judge claimed that he bought the property from the orthodox church in 1990. However, it wasn't until 2008, when the Greek Orthodox Church gave the building to the Coptic Orthodox Church that the judge tried to file his alleged property purchase with the local real estate authority.

"After we received the church in January of 2008, the judge began to dispute with us, alleging that he bought the church from the Greek Orthodox community in 1990, and used his position as judge and registered its contract," the Coptic church's priest, Father Luka Asaad Awad, told ICC.

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