A Coptic church in the village of Beni Mazar, in Minya, renovated by the Egyptian Armed Forces Engineering Authority, has reopened, on Saturday, after four years of due to attacks by a Muslim mob in the 2013 sectarian violence that swept across Egypt.
The church is among the 69 churches attacked and destroyed by rioting Muslim mobs in an anti-President Mohamed Morsi uprising and sit-in protests that saw the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood regime.
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights reported in August, that, “at least 45 churches came under simultaneous attack in various governorates as soon as procedures to clear the two sit-ins began resulting in the death of seven citizens, the torching of 25 churches, the looting and destruction of seven churches and the partial destruction of five more churches. This is in addition to assaults on numerous schools, civic associations and church-affiliated social services buildings.”
The Egyptian government closed down many churches as a result of these attacks especially in the Minya region. Bishop Macarius said 15 churches were closed by security order, in Minya alone, and 70 villages and hamlets were left without any place of worship as a result.
The re-opening of the church last Saturday was led by the head of the Evangelical Community Andrea Zaki and the Minya Governor.
Other churches restored in the area are the St Peter and St Paul Church, damaged by the 11 December suicide bombing by the Islamic State.
The Minya governorate has experienced the most attacks by the Islamic State (IS) in the Peninsular, suffering about 75 attacks in six years all targeting Christian residents.
Coptic Solidarity, a group of Coptic Christians in the United States, has called for the commemoration of Coptic martyrs in Egypt this week, “in recognition of the rapidly increasing number of Copts who have been killed for their faith, to create greater awareness of the plight of Copts who suffer religious persecution and daily discriminations, and to advocate for their religious freedom and civil rights.”
The commemoration is to “coincide with the 6th Anniversary of the Maspero Massacre in which the Egyptian army murdered 28 demonstrators (27 were Copts) and injured 327 who were peacefully protesting the government’s closure of a church in Aswan after it was destroyed by Islamists.”
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos