Muslim mob attacks Christians, burns homes after falsely believing a church was being built in Egypt; Police do nothing

A mob attacked people and property in a village in Egypt because they thought that Christians were building a church.

Egyptian Christians hold placards during a protest against the killing of Egyptian Coptic Christians by militants of the Islamic State in Libya, in Cairo February 16, 2015. | Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

"A great deal of fanatic Muslims gathered in front of the new house of my cousin, Naim Aziz, during its construction because of a rumour spread in the village that this building would be turned into a church," Christian resident Mousa Zarif told International Christian Concern, as quoted by Christian Today.

The house is located in the village of Qarayat al Bayda, near Alexandria. Aziz, a Coptic Christian, reportedly said that it wasn't a church that he was constructing but a new house for his son. However, on June 17 following Friday prayers, a large group gathered around it, chanting, "By no means shall there be a church here." The mob destroyed construction materials, attacked Aziz and his brother, and also destroyed and looted surrounding homes and properties owned by Christians. Even the church community center was not left untouched.

"They also intercepted the car of Fr Karas Naser, the priest of the Holy Virgin and the Archangel Michael Coptic Church when he arrived at the village," Zarif said. "They attacked him but some moderate Muslims intervened, rescuing him from their hands and getting him out of the car."

Police eventually arrived, but they allegedly did not stop the destruction; rather, they arrested six Muslims and six Coptic Christians, including Aziz and his brother, who were both injured. The Muslims were released shortly, but the Christians were not freed until the following day on bail. They were charged with building without a permit and holding prayers without permission.

William Stark, ICC's regional manager for South Asia, said that it's unspeakable the way the perpetrators were released and allowed to "continue to enjoy total impunity," while the victims were charged with crimes.

"The police and government authorities in Egypt cannot allow these attacks to go unpunished because the victims come from a minority faith," he said. "It continues to show how Christians in Egypt are treated like second class citizens We call on the Egyptian authorities to ensure that justice is served and that Christian communities like this be protected from further assault in Egypt."

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, also said that they are concerned about " the arrest of six Copts on spurious charges" and about the failure of the security services to ensure the Coptic community's safety.

"This incident underscores the urgent constitutional requirement for the House of Representatives to issue a law regulating the construction and renovation of houses of worship in a manner that guarantees the right of Christians to worship in community with others," he said.