Middle East and North Africa

Coptic church closed down in Minya after Islamist pressure

An Egyptian bishop, Anba Makarios has condemned the government’s month-long closure of a Coptic Church in Kedwan village in Minya because it is claimed Muslims didn’t want it.

Bishop Makarios said the government  “should not be subordinate to people and extremists’ whims, we have engaged in several attempts to open communication channels with authorities to resume activity of the closed church, but to no avail.”

The Bishop expressed his exasperation with authorities who have, for the second time; once in 2012 and then now, closed the church for fear of riots by extremist radical Muslim groups.

The local Muslims in Kedwan claimed the church is unlicensed.

Makarios said relations have been cordial between the Copts and the Muslims in Kedwan but the government chose to shut down the church fearing public unrest by the extremists.

“We hope that authorities can apply Egypt’s constitution, that gives the right to every citizen to freely worship and practice his religion’s rituals. Copts at the Kedwan village are asking for their right,” said the Bishop.

There had been clashes in the Minya governorate between Muslims and Coptic Christians, in later part of 2016, especially in the rural communities, as a result of a misunderstanding between a Coptic Christian lady and a Muslim family which resulting in the destruction of homes of Coptic Christians and many Copts were injured.

 

Hassan John Is West Africa editor for GCN and a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

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