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Assaults on Christians Continue in Egypt, Islamists Call for 'Friday of Martyrs' Protests

Assaults on Christians Continue in Egypt, Islamists Call for 'Friday of Martyrs' Protests

(ICC) -- International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that deadly assaults on Christians at the hands of radical Islamists have continued across Egypt more than nine days after Muslim Brotherhood protests were dispersed last week. ICC sources inside the country report that many Christians are "living in horror" as police forces continue to ignore attacks on Christian communities and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi call for new protests on Friday.

On Tuesday, ICC sources reported that supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi murdered Mohsen Arnest and his son-in-law as they were on their way home in the village of Al Sarakna in Upper Egypt. While ICC could not independently verify the killings, if accurate, their deaths bring the estimated number of Christians killed since last week to seven.

Also on Tuesday, ICC sources reported that the Muslim Brotherhood had taken over "full control" of the city of Kerdasa in the Giza Governorate of Lower Egypt. The Brotherhood is reportedly setting up fortifications in the city to prevent the entry of police and the military while forcibly displacing all of the Christian families in the city, threatening to kill the families if they do not leave.

On Wednesday evening, a dispute between Christian and Muslim youth led to severe clashes between Muslims and Christians in the village of Saft El Laban, about ten kilometers outside of Minya. The argument purportedly began after Muslim youth attacked a Christian boy, known only as "Mokbel," and attempted to steal his motorcycle. The boy refused and ran home, only to be chased by the group who proceeded to try and break down the front door of the home. The Christian family fled to the rooftop and began throwing bricks down on the group, one of which struck and killed a young Muslim. Soon after, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood used a loudspeaker at a mosque to call on Muslims to attack Christian homes in reprisal. At least eight Christian homes in the village were burned and an unknown number of Christian villagers injured in the attacks that followed.

In an exclusive eyewitness account obtained by ICC, a local Christian resident, Mina Saber, describes the ordeal: "What happened was terrible. They were chanting 'Allah Akbar' as they burned the Christian homes. They destroyed more than eight Christian homes, insulted us, and injured many Christians in the absence of the police. We tried many times to call the police to come and protect us from these attacks but not one of them came." Mina went on to say that Christians are currently "living in horror and great fear and panic because they threatened to kill all of us and they said they are going to purify the village from the Christians ... unfortunately there isn't any protection for us."

Early Friday morning ICC sources also reported that masked gunmen, suspected to be radical Islamists, abducted a 35-year-old Christian man, Waheed Naim, from the village of El Habalsa in Upper Egypt. Waheed was reportedly guarding the construction site of his new home when he was taken at gunpoint and stuffed into a waiting vehicle. Two hours later, Waheed's family was contacted and ordered to pay 500,000 Egyptian pounds, or more than 71,000 dollars, for his release. Waheed's status is currently unknown.  

Ryan Morgan, a regional manager for International Christian Concern, said: "The reports of Christians being attacked across Egypt continue to stream in day after day after day. We are appalled, though not surprised, by the deadly violence members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical groups are inflicting on a largely defenseless Christian minority. The United States should immediately call on the interim government in Egypt to protect Christian communities, especially those in outlying areas of Upper Egypt, from further attack. No one else should have to die simply because they are a member of a religious minority."

International Christian Concern is a Washington, D.C.-based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides awareness, advocacy and assistance to the worldwide persecuted church.

Publication date: August 23, 2013