Sectarian violence has broken out in an Egyptian village.
Hundreds of local Muslim villagers in Barsha in Minya governorate attacked the homes and properties of local Christians on Wednesday.
According to persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the incident began after rumours circulated that a Christian man, who remains anonymous to ensure his security, had posted a comment on his Facebook page that was deemed insulting to Islam. The man claims that his page had been hacked.
The aggressors also tried to attack the church of Abou Sefin, where the congregation was celebrating the beginning of the Coptic fast. CSW said minibus belonging to the church was set on fire and several homes and properties were damaged, but no one was hurt. Police were arrived quickly, and arrested a number of local Muslims and Christians who were involved in clashes.
The allegation that sparked the violence comes amid a significant increase in the number of people arrested on charges relating to contempt of religion and blasphemy during 2020.
CSW’s CEO Scot Bower said: “While we are relieved that nobody was hurt in this incident, the Egyptian government must do far more to combat sectarian violence and bring an end to the culture of collective punishment in the Minya region. This incident must be thoroughly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice. The societal hostility underpinning sectarian discord, which facilitates frequent outbreaks of violence in the area, must also be addressed.”
CSW has urged Egyptian authorities to engage positively with human rights organisations to promote religious diversity through civic engagement and education.