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World News

Church construction site in targeted by extremist mob

by Tola Mbakwe

An extremist mob has targeted the construction site of a new Evangelical church in Upper Egypt.

The 26th April attack in the Minya Province, which happened after Friday prayers, led to significant damage to the building's foundation and sewage system. Additionally, homes and properties belonging to Christians in the village were damaged, though no injuries were reported.

Local law enforcement initially faced challenges in stopping the unrest but managed to restore peace after reinforcements arrived from neighbouring areas. Several individuals involved in the attack have been arrested.

Persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) confirmed that the Christian community in Al-Kom Al-Ahmar had secured all necessary legal documents and permissions for the church's construction. The project, which started on 22nd April under police surveillance, aims to accommodate the spiritual needs of over 2,000 Evangelical Christians residing in the region.

This incident follows closely on the heels of similar aggression in Al-Fawakher village, also within Minya Province. There, extremists destroyed the homes and properties of several Christians amid rumours they intended to erect a church.

Mervyn Thomas, CSW’s founder and president said: “While CSW welcomes the swift response of the authorities to stem the violence in Al-Kom Al-Ahmar, it is, nevertheless, concerning that this was the second incident of this nature in Minya Province within a matter of days.

“We emphasise once again that the Egyptian authorities must increase their efforts to address extremism and sectarianism – particularly in Upper Egypt where it is most prevalent – and deliver on President Sisi’s stated commitment to reform, inclusivity, and the principles of equal citizenship.”

According to Open Doors, there are about 9.8 million Christians in Egypt, from a total population of more than 108 million.

It ranks number 38 out of 50 on the religious freedom charity’s World Watch List of the countries where Christians face the most persecution.

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