Muslims Riot, Injure Christians in Egypt After Facebook Post Asks Jesus to Change Terrorists
A group of Muslims reportedly rioted earlier in September in the village of Tawa in Minya, Egypt, injuring three Christians and destroying homes and cars in anger against a Facebook post that called on Jesus Christ to touch the hearts of terrorists.
Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported on Monday that the attack took place on Sept. 14, when a number of Muslims gathered in the village in front of Christian homes and shops.
"They were pelting stones at the homes while shouting 'Allah Akbar.' They hurled bricks and stones at Mar Girgis (St. George) Coptic Orthodox Church despite the presence of some security guards who had been assigned to guard the church, but the guards couldn't confront the huge number of the mob," explained Essam, a Christian eyewitness in the town.
"The police then arrived in the village, controlled the situation, and arrested Muslim villagers. The security forces have now deployed across the streets of the village."
The anger apparently stemmed from a Facebook post written in May by a 22-year-old Christian resident of Tawa named Bassem, who spoke out against the Islamic State's terrorist attack in Minya where 29 Egyptian Christians were massacred.
"Are we (Copts) Egyptians not from Egypt? No matter that you try to hurt us, one day all your ways will fail. Do you think that I cry? Never! I don't cry because I trust in Jesus very much, I prostrate to Him and He loves me. He never leaves me one day," the post read.
"When you demolish the homes of His children, you attack Himself. I ask Jesus to touch your heart and change you. Our Lord knows and see what is happening to us. Continue and increase your terrorism, but I'm not afraid because it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God."
Bassem also apparently shared photos of Salafi Sheikhs who he believed played a part in the attacks against Copts. Though he deleted the post a day later, it had already spread across social media and infuriated Muslims, who found it to be an insult against their religion.
Nineteen Muslims were detained on Sept. 15 following the violence, though prosecutors also ordered the arrests of Bassem and Mena, another Christian man, accusing them of insulting Islamic figures. The two Christians reportedly have fled the village.
IS' attack in May on Copts who were traveling on a bus to a desert monastery sparked international condemnation, with survivors revealing that a number of the Christians refused to denounce their faith when asked.
Mariam Adel, a young mother whose husband and nine of her relatives were killed in the attack, told Financial Times in July that the extremists ordered the women off the bus and demanded that they convert to Islam.
"Renounce our faith? Of course not," Adel said of the women's reaction. "If we had, they might have let us off the bus and treated us well. But we only want Jesus and we are confident he will not leave us."
Morningstar News reported in August that Christians have faced opposition from government authorities as well, however. A 1,300-member church in Minya was closed down after Muslims objected to it.
Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Minya Anba Makarios said in response: "The security apparatus has prevented Copts from practicing their rites in Kedwan, Minya, claiming that it was because of objections of some opposing factions in the village, and that it was necessary to be considerate of their feelings.
"However, this means that there is no consideration for the feelings of the Copts and those who do not ask for anything but to pray, as if the decision belonged to the opposing factions and not to a great state such as Egypt, which should have authority and law."