Minya (Southern Egypt) - The building of a new church has become a major crisis in the village of Kom Alloufi in Minya as extreme Salafis are refusing the establishment of a church in the village. Coptics were attacked by extremists during their celebration of Maundy Thursday (Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter), earlier this month to prevent them from exercising their religious rituals, injuring a number of them.
Recently, the extremists of Upper Egypt’s village distributed a document containing unfair conditions to give their approval for the building of the church, including not having a cross raised on top of the church and no ringing of bells during prayers. They have claimed that their conditions have been approved by the village’s Christian residents and governorate’s officials.
The residents of the village blame the intensive presence of Salafists, saying that they work to promote extremist ideas among the residents.
Clashes erupted between a number of Muslims and Copts for the first time in June 2016, as extremists refused the building of the church in their village. Muslim protesters claimed that a Coptic citizen turned his house into a church without a license. They attacked the Copts and burned a number of their houses in the village.
Minya’s Governor, Essam Al Bedeiwy, denied that he approved the extremists’ conditions to build the church, saying that the document they are currently circulating among the residents, and on social media networks has no signatures.
He added, in a statement to Al-Bawaba, “We did not interfere in the incidents witnessed in the village except for the purpose to restore security.” He added that the security forces arrested a number of Muslim residents for committing acts violating the law.
He continued, “We are not a part of the current dialogue between the residents of the village to resolve the problem. Each citizen in the governorate has the right to exercise his religious rituals freely.”
On the other hand, Egyptian member of parliament, Abdul Rahim Ali, called upon the Egyptian authorities for conducting investigations over the so-called document presented by the village’s extremists, warning that such a document could raise increasing tension during the coming period.
He added that the document poses serious challenges against the Egyptian state due to claims of the extremists of governmental approval on the unfair conditions imposed by them to accept the building of a church. He stressed that such a document is considered a clear violation against the Egyptian constitution and the rule of law, saying that the conditions revert the country to an era of pre-citizenship.
According to sources, security and executive authorities exerted efforts to convince Salafists to allow the building of the church, yet they refused. They stressed that their village does not need a church, as it contains few Coptic families.
Secretary of Egypt’s Endowment Ministry, Mahmoud Abu Hatab, blamed the current crisis on tribal ways of thinking, which dominate the mentality of Upper Egypt’s people, refusing claims that Salafists are responsible for such incidents.
He added that his ministry controls the mosques of the village, saying that the preachers of these mosques work with the ministry and are committed to the orders issued by the government concerning Friday sermons. He added that the Salafist preachers have not been allowed to deliver sermons in the village’s mosques.