4 churches closed in October as if prayer is a crime: Archbishopric of Minya

The Coptic Orthodox Archbishopric of Minya governorate said on Sunday that four churches were closed during October, as if the prayer of Coptic Christians is a crime.

“We stayed silent for two weeks after the closure of a church hoping that the officials would do the job they were assigned to do by the state. However, this silence has led to something worse, as if prayer is a crime the Copts should be punished for. The Coptic Christians go to the neighboring villages to perform their prayers,” the Archbishopric of Minya said in a statement.

“What happened within two weeks, hasn’t happen over years; churches are closed, the Coptic Christians are being attacked and their property destroyed, and there is no deterrent. The bargaining and the balance are usually used under the name of peaceful coexistence. The Copts always pay the price of this coexistence, not the aggressors,” the statement said.

It continued “The reactions of officials are disappointing, and when there is any dispute or an attack, the first alternative is to close the church and put pressure only on the Copts with impunity for the aggressors.”

The statement listed the shut-down four churches as follows:

On October 15, the police closed the Church of al-Azraa (Virgin Mary) in the village of Sheikh Alaa in Minya city, which was attacked by extremists in 2015 and closed. Officials did not take any steps to reopen it. The Copts reopened and prayed it on October 15, but some people harassed the worshipers the same day, and it was closed again.

On October 22, the church of Anba Mousa in al-Qushairy village of Abu Qurqas city, was closed after months of worship. Extremists hurled stones at the place, injuring four Copts. None of the attackers was arrested, a reconciliation session was held between Copts and Muslims as usual, but still the church closed.

The third incident was in the Abu Sayfen church in the village of al-Karm. Muslims, according to the statement, did not complain about the existence of the church, but the officials closed it fearing a possible attack.

The fourth incident took place in the church of Mar Gerges (Saint George) in Ezbet Zakaria, where some tried to attack the place last Friday and then were confronted, one Coptic woman was injured.

At night perpetrators attacked the property of some Copts. On Saturday evening, some of the village elders and one of the MPs calmed the area, and police are still stationed there.

Edited Translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Source: Egypt Independent

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