Middle East and North Africa

Coptic Christians stage ‘sleepover’ to protect their church

Bishop of Shubral-Kheima, Anba Margos. Credit: wantinet.com

Christians in the north Cairo Qalyubiya district of Shubral-Kheimaf have had enough of Egypt’s local authorities reacting to Islamist threats to Christians by closing down their churches.

On 9 November, upon hearing that the police intended to shut their church down, because of rumours that Islamists were going to attack the church on 10 November after Friday noon prayers, the local Christians staged a sleepover in the church.

The Bishop of Shubral-Kheima, Anba Margos, fearing for the safety of the congregation, had pleaded with them to go home, but they were determined to protect their church. Although the building is still unfinished, it has been a working church for the last two years.

Even after the electricity authority cut off power to the church building, the Christians were reported to be undeterred. The young men divided themselves into groups to guard the church, while others monitored the CCTV cameras in the building. The young men remained after midnight after the women and children had left.

This follows on from the previously reported story of the shutting down of four churches in Minya. The pattern involves Islamists threatening violence, which local authorities respond to closing down the church, citing “security concerns.”