Muslim mob attacks Coptic Christian village in Egypt over Facebook post criticizing Islamic leaders

(Reuters/Amina Ismail)People walk on a street in Egypt's Southern governorate of Minya, Egypt April 12, 2017.

A Muslim mob reportedly attacked the Coptic Christian community in the village of Tawa in Minya Egypt earlier this month as a reprisal to a Facebook post that criticized some well-known Islamic leaders.

According to World Watch Monitor, the Facebook comment in question was first posted in May by a Christian resident of Tawa named Bassem Abdel-Malak Fahim in the wake of the Minya bus attack, in which 28 Copts were killed.

In the social media post, Fahim reportedly accused well-known Islamic leaders of inciting people to attack Christians and denounced the Egyptian government for targeting Islamic extremists in Libya but failing to control those within Egypt's borders.

The Facebook post was deleted the next day, but not before it was shared by his friend Mina Younan Samuel, whose post was seen more than three months later on Sept. 6 by some Muslims in the village.

On Sept. 7, Fahim and his father met with Islamic leaders in the village to apologize about the social media post and to say that he did not mean to insult Islam or its prophet.

When Muslims gathered outside Fahim's home on Sept. 10 to protest, Coptic leader, Fr. Gawargious Abdel-Saied Aziz, called for the support of Minya security officials and the Minya bishop, Anba Macarius. The situation appeared to be calm after that, according to a Coptic villager named Adel Girgis, but when the security officials withdrew from the village on Sept. 14, the mob began to attack houses of Coptic Christians.

"At 9pm, a great deal of Muslim villagers gathered and began to attack us," Girgis narrated. "The situation was very terrible for all of us. They attacked Coptic-owned homes randomly, they hurled bricks and stones at the homes, destroying the windows and doors of these homes, destroying and looting the properties," he added.

Girgis noted that the mob targeted Adib Hanna Street, which has only Coptic residents. Two Coptic men and one woman were injured, and several shops and vehicles were destroyed, he recounted.

The day after the incident, security officials arrested as many as 100 people, but only 19 were detained.

According to International Christian Concern, the prosecution also ordered the arrest of Fahim and Mina for insulting Islamic figures, but both men have left the village.

Fahim later issued an apology on his Facebook page, saying: "I did not mean to offend any religious or public figures, but rather terrorism and terrorists, the enemies of the homeland. I deleted that post from that date, and I did not write anything after it. I affirm my love and respect for all Christians and Muslims, and everyone in my dear country."

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