A group of Muslims attacked a Christian village in southern Egypt last week in an attack that injured two Coptic believers and a firefighter, each of whom needed to be hospitalized.
The Minya Coptic Orthodox Diocese announced that at least four Christian homes in the village of Demshaw Hachem were attacked and looted last Friday by "extremists" who objected to the houses being used as churches.
"Extremists attacked Copts, stole quantities of jewelry and money, destroyed household appliances and set fire to property," the diocese's statement reads, according to AFP.
Those who attacked the homes were either residents of the village or came from nearby areas.
The attack came as the threats and reports of an attack on the Christian community had been rumored for several days.
Although the church informed authorities of the threat of a possible attack, the diocese statement explains that authorities only came to the Christians' aid after the attack occurred. As many as 38 suspects have reportedly been arrested in connection with the attack.
According to Middle East Eye, the diocese believes that the lack of proactive measures from authorities contributed to the impact of the attack.
"The likelihood of the recurrence of such attacks is very high, as long as the perpetrators are not punished," the diocese said.
As approximately 10 percent of the Egyptian population is Christian, Egypt currently ranks as the 17th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's 2018 World Watch List.
In Egypt, Christians often face restrictions on building places of worship. When they do manage to gather for worship, Copts often face hostility.
Over the last few years, Coptic Christians have been subjected to numerous brutal attacks and church bombings carried by Islamic extremists.
A similar attack to the one that occured last Friday in Demshaw Hachem occurred in the nearby village of Ezbet Sultan Pasha weeks earlier.
According to World Watch Monitor, the first protest against Christians in Ezbet Sultan Pasha began on July 6 after rumors circulated that an application was submitted to build a church in the town.
"The protesters were chanting slogans against us (Copts), such as 'We don't want a church in our village,'" Resident Hany Farouk told the persecution news outlet at the time. "We locked ourselves in our homes during the demonstration because we were afraid that they would attack us. Police didn't do anything to disperse the demonstrators and didn't arrest anyone of them."
Demonstrations against the Christians in the village would continue on July 7 without any police intervention. On July 13, an even bigger mob that also included residents from other villages began to throw bricks and projectiles at the church and a Coptic-owned house next door.
"They were shouting 'Allahu akbar' (Allah is the greatest) and chanting hostile slogans against Copts, such as: 'We will not allow any church to exist in our Muslim village,' 'We will not allow any other prayers to be held in our Muslim village except our prayers,'" Farouk was quoted as saying.
Christians in the Luxor governate have also faced similar struggles. The diocese has seen at least eight churches close while seeking official recognition by the government, according to another World Watch Monitor report.
In August, the eighth church closed after villagers protested against the church building being recognized.
In May 2017, gunmen killed 28 people and injured 22 others when they opened fired on a convoy transporting Copts from Minya making a pilgrimage to the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor.