AFRICA/EGYPT - Shops and homes of Coptic Christians ransacked and set on fire in sectarian attacks in the village of al Barsha

Friday, 27 November 2020 middle east   oriental churches   sectaniarism   intollerance   blasphemy   reconciliation  

Minya (Agenzia Fides) - The village of al Barsha, in the Egyptian governorate of Minya, was again, on Thursday 26 November, the scene of sectarian attacks perpetrated against members of the local Coptic Orthodox community. Groups close to Islamist groups, attacked the church and some Coptic houses and shops with stones and molotov cocktails. Some of the shops attacked were also ransacked. An elderly Coptic woman was hospitalized for burns suffered in the fire in her home.
The attacks allegedly began after a young Coptic posted an article on his Facebook account considered offensive to Islam and the Prophet Mohammad. The intervention of the police force to restore calm led to the arrest of a hundred people including 35 Copts.
General Osama Al Qadi, Governor of the Minya Province, immediately called a meeting with a delegation of notables from the village and region to find a timely solution to the crisis and put an end to the sectarian attacks. The meeting, held in a school in the city of Mallawi, was also attended by representatives of the Committee for Reconciliation and Religious Endowments, the University of al Azhar and the Coptic Church and the House of the Egyptian Family, an interreligious liaison body activated a few years ago to prevent or mitigate sectarian controversies. In this context, the Governor referred to the measures that will be taken against "anyone who offends others", reiterating that "no one will be allowed to sow discord between people who belong to the same nation", and also invited the imams to focus their sermons in mosques on the themes of coexistence and tolerance. Despite these appeals, proclamations continue to be spread through social networks that foment opposition and clash between Muslims and Coptic Christians, instigating new sectarian attacks.
In the past, incidents similar to those of al Barsha had been overcome through the so-called "reconciliation meetings", public gatherings imposed by local authorities in which authoritative members of different faith communities perform public acts of pacification. In recent times, several organizations have questioned the effectiveness of this practice. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 27/11/2020)