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The temporary church building in Mishaat Zaafaranah before and after the arson attack of 6 January.


Temporary church building set on fire in Upper Egypt

11 Jan 2024

A church in Upper Egypt was destroyed after being set on fire by a local mob early in the morning of 6 January.

The incident took place in the village of Misha’at Zaafaranah in Abou Qarqas in Minya Province, where local Christians have been using the temporary church building as a place of worship for four months after submitting all the documents required to obtain a permit. The structure that was set on fire had been erected within the brick boundaries of land belonging to the church after they received no objection from security services.

Local police are said to have responded to the attack quickly to prevent further escalation.

A source told CSW: ‘It is worrying that some Muslim extremists are not only protesting against and attacking new churches, but also attacking newly-built or under construction houses belonging to Christians if they suspect that such properties might be used for any form of worship, and sometimes intimidating and threatening Christians to prevent them from selling their properties to anyone who is not a local resident.’

A similar incident took place in the village of Beni Khyar in Abou Qarqas in November 2023 when a mob attacked a Christian man and burned down his house which was under construction.

On 18 December, in another incident, an extremist mob attacked a church building site as well as Christian homes and properties in Al-Azeeb village in Samalout, Minya Province, despite the fact that the Christians had a permit to build a church.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘CSW is concerned at the rising frequency of attacks on churches and Christian homes in Upper Egypt. While we are relieved that no one was hurt in these most recent incidents, we strongly condemn these sectarian attacks on innocent people who simply want to practice their faith peacefully, a right enshrined in the Egyptian constitution. Whilst we recognise President Sisi’s stated commitment to reform, crackdown on sectarianism, and to uphold and promote principles of equal citizenship, we call upon the authorities to hold those responsible accountable and to ensure that all Egyptian citizens are free to practice any religion or belief of their choosing.’



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