Church in Egypt Attacked over Rumour of Muslim conversion to Christianity

March 6, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Church in Egypt attackedEgypt, March 05, 2013: A church in Egypt came under attack for several days by Muslims who threw rocks and explosives at the building over an unfounded rumour that a Muslim woman had converted to Christianity.

The violence at St George’s Church in the Upper Egyptian city of Kom Ombo broke out late Thursday night (28 February) when dozens of Muslims tried to storm the building. Attacks continued over the next three days, during which at least 12 Christians and 11 police officers were injured; one Christian was said to be in a serious condition.

One Christian, Abanob (17), said he was wounded by a teenager who first asked him if he was a Christian. When Abanob replied that he was, the assailant pulled out a pocketknife and aimed at the Christian’s face. Abanob raised his arm to protect his face and the limb was slashed.

A field hospital was set up in a corner of the church courtyard to tend to the wounded.

Rumours had been circulating since a 36-year-old Muslim woman, identified as “Sahar”, went missing around 23 February. Some believed that she had voluntarily converted to Christianity and was hiding inside the church, while others thought that she had been kidnapped and converted against her will.

Despite denials by the church, the woman’s family and influential Muslim figures that the church had any involvement in her disappearance, the violence against St George’s raged on over the weekend. Members of some Islamic groups actually tried to protect the church, forming a human shield around the building.

A senior security chief announced late on Saturday that Sahar had been found. He said that “family and social reasons” were behind her disappearance and that she had not converted.

The suspected conversion of a Muslim to Christianity can provoke great hostility towards Christian communities in Egypt, where it is legally permitted to convert to Islam but not from it.

Christians continue to be extremely vulnerable in post-revolution Egypt. Towards the end of last month, a group of church leaders in the town of Safaga were told to convert to Islam or face death. The threat was made by a new Islamic militant group called Jihad al-Kufr, whose name translates as “Jihad against non-believers / non-Muslims”.

– barnabas team

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