Christian horror as Egyptian church torn down - priest and worshippers attacked

Christian horror as Egyptian church torn down - priest and worshippers attacked

Egyptian authorities have demolished a Christian church building and the mosque that was built next to it in the town of Koum Al-Farag. The church had stood for 15 years and served 3,000 parishioners, but the mosque was a much more recent addition to the site.

According to an ancient Islamic tradition, or common law, churches are prevented from being formally recognised or displaying any Christian symbols if a mosque is built next to them.

Because of this, critics of Christianity often build mosques next to churches in a bid to get them destroyed.

Egyptian authorities decided the best solution to the impasse was to demolish both buildings.

A deacon of the church told the Open Doors charity: "We believe they built it out of protest.

"Our village already has four mosques and another one wasn’t really needed.

"On top of that, they build it without the use of a foundation.

"The church lawyer made an official appeal against this order."

Official papers were shown to the police but no notice was taken.

The deacon added: "The mayor then ignored it and sent 200 policemen without warning.

"The police, and some Muslim extremist from our village that came along with them, insulted our priest and hit him in the face and chest so bad that he fainted.

"Then they fired tear gas at us church members and attacked us physically, they even hurt women and children.

"They arrested 14 church members, including some women and a man whose arm was broken by the attackers."

The other church members watched as their beloved church building was torn down.

The deacon said: “They demolished all the concrete columns of the three storeys of the church building. They demolished the altar, Christian sanctuaries, and destroyed Christian books.”

Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide Mervyn Thomas said: "We encourage the Egyptian administration to continue on the path of reforming legislation and addressing societal attitudes and practices that restrict the right to freedom of religion or belief.

"While the legalisation of these places of worship is a welcome development, we remain concerned by the destruction of both the church and mosque in Koum Al-Farag, which is not an effective way of addressing sectarian tensions.

"The government must work with local authorities to formulate civic interventions that address and transform the societal attitudes underpinning sectarian tensions."

The demolition was preceded by violent incidents that broke out when extremist Muslims objected to a Sunday school being built on the side of the Christian Church.

The Church deacon described how "extremist Muslims attacked us", but luckily, "this first attack was stopped by moderate Muslims in our village".