“Because they have built a mosque five meters away from the church, this means that of course the church, which has been there for twelve years, has to move.” Of course.
Democracy On The March Update: “Three Churches Attacked, Egyptian Military Sides With Radical Muslims,” by Mary Abdelmassih for AINA, April 9:
(AINA) — In the last two weeks three attacks on churches were undertaken by Salafis or Islamic Fundamentalists in Egypt. The Salafis demanded churches move to locations outside communities and be forbidden from making repairs, “even if they are so dilapidated that the roofs will collapse over the heads of the congregation,” says Father Estephanos Shehata of Samalut Coptic Diocese.
Islamic law forbids Christians to build new churches or repair old ones.
The latest of these incidents took place in the village of Kamadeer, in Samalout, Minya province on April 5, which escalated to the point where it was feared the church would be torched and demolished, as was done in the case of St. George and St. Mina Church in village of Soul, Atfif, on March 5 (AINA 3-5-2011). For three days Muslims occupied the entrance to St. John the Beloved Church in the village of Kamadeer with their mats, praying and sleeping there while thousands of village Copts staged a sit-in for three continuous days in front of the Minya governorate building, vowing not to leave until they got their church back. “Even if it takes one year, we will still be here,” said Fr. Youssab in the rally. The Coptic demonstrators demanded the reopening of their church and prosecution of the squatters (video of Coptic sit-in).
When the priest arrived at St. John the Beloved church on April 5 he found hundreds of Salafis, who told him and the parishioners that arrived for mass they are “not allowed” to pray at this church any longer.
The problem started when the heavy rain in January 2011 caused the church, which is built of clay bricks and has a timber roof, to suffer severe cracks. The Copts requested from the military permission for repairs. Last week inspectors from the local council visited the church and confirmed the church is dilapidated and poses a threat to the parishioners and must be repaired.
“This has angered the Muslims,” said attorney Hani Labib from Kamadeer, “who saw the Copts were going to get permission for renovation because of the state of the church. They told us ‘we allowed you to pray here, but there is no question of any building work to be done, this will have to be over our dead bodies.'” He added that police officers summoned a number of Copts from the Kamadeer village and ordered them to sign affidavits not to pray at the church in “deference to the wishes its Muslims.” But the Copts refused to sign.
“Salafi Sheikh Mohamad Saleh, called on Muslims to prevent the restoration of the church,” said Fr. Estephanos. He added the Muslims said we have to move the church to another location, which was refused. “Because they have built a mosque five meters away from the church, this means that of course the church, which has been there for twelve years, has to move.” He said relationships between Copts and Muslims in the village are usually amicable but the Salafis stepped in and incited Muslims from other villages to besiege the church….
What? The Vast Majority of Peaceful Muslims didn’t stand up to the Tiny Minority of Extremists?