Mid East Christian News (MCN) reports with breaking news that a crowd of enraged Muslims in the town of Sarsana, Fayoum [southwest of Cairo], set fire to the Mar Guirguis Church today, Friday, February 15, after prayers.
The angry mob set the entire roof alight, says MCN, “and the priest was smuggled out before the crowd could assault him.” I wonder if he was lowered in a basket through an opening in the wall like Saul of Tarsus? Actually this was the only bright spot in the entire story because the priest was helped to escape by a Muslim family.
According the MCN, there were plenty of openings in the church wall! The Muslims had demolished a part of the wall “three months ago, in order to monitor the worship services in the church.”
But the Copts of the village were surprised (seriously?) that the Muslims had attacked again, because they had held a “reconciliation” session in which the Muslims refused to give back a 50-meter piece of land that belonged to the church. They also refused for the Coptic Christians to establish a kindergarten in the church. The Copts acquiesced to their demands and in return…they burned the church.
This time, the rage was inspired by a Salafi who “spoke against the existence of a church besides a Muslim house.” MCN’s source said that the Salafi “called the position of the church” — which serves some 180 Christian families — “illegal.” He also had problems with the electricity bill being in the name of H.G. Bishop Abraam, the bishop of Fayoum.
MCN continued that the Christians of the village “have been in shock” since Thursday, when the Muslims actually demanded that the church be moved from its site — the property that belongs to the church. Today, says MCN, in addition to setting it on fire, “the crowd widened the hole in the church’s wall, and rejected the church’s offer to purchase the house from the Muslim man, considering Priest Domadios’ presence as ‘against Sharia.'”
After many hours and much destruction, security forces persuaded the attackers to leave. (They were probably finished anyway.) MCN says that three Christians were injured “attempting to defend the church.” Let’s see if those three Christians end up getting arrested. I wouldn’t be surprised.