small village in southern Egypt are rebuilding their lives and homes after
hundreds of Muslims rampaged through their community firebombing houses and
businesses over rumors of a romantic relationship between a Christian and a
damaged or destroyed in the village of Al-Nawahid in Qena Governorate, 454
kilometers (282 miles) south of Cairo. Five people were injured, two
everything,” Demetry said. “My brother saw the house after it was burnt down,
and he fainted. He couldn’t believe what happened to the house. Everybody is
living in sadness and desperation.”
Muslims poured onto the streets chanting “God is great!” while brandishing
swords, knives, meat cleavers and shooting rifles in the air, according to
Ra’fat Samir, a human rights activist in Luxor.
Christians are huddled together. The Christians fled as the crowd approached.
to the house next door, so they could escape with their wives and children,”
Demetry said. “Then they attacked us and set the houses on fire – more than 20
rights activist Samir said.
Samir. Two 87-year-old men suffered head injuries, and the rest had injuries to
their arms and shoulders, he said.
They then torched the buildings with Molotov cocktails and bombs made out of
propane tanks. Numerous shops were destroyed along with a grocery store and a
business that sold animals to butchers. Also destroyed were farms and two water
pumps worth more than US$20,000 each. The pumps were
vital for transporting water from the Nile to farms in the arid,
burned,” Demetry said. “There was screaming all over the village. We were
screaming and asking God to help us. We have never seen a night like that
Hussam Naweil Attallah, was romantically involved with an 18-year-old Muslim
woman, whose name has not been released. Attallah knew the woman because he and
his family lived next door to her.
and the woman were detained and then handed over to police. After subjecting the
young woman to a medical examination to confirm her virginity, authorities
decided the two had not been intimate, and the woman was released. Egypt’s State
Security Intelligence kept Attallah in its custody, presumably for his
protection. He is still in custody.
said there is a feud going on in Al-Nawahid among three families for political
control of the area, and two of the families are inciting violence, using
Christians in the area as pawns to depose the current mayor.
the riot happened, Samir said. Church officials canceled St. George’s Day
services in anticipation of violence. Security forces had been posted near the
Christian area of Al-Nawahid for a few days, but for unknown reasons they moved
away shortly before the destruction started.
Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice – local police were quickly outnumbered, and
military police were called. At 10 p.m. the new security detail surrounded the
area of the violent mob but did nothing to stop the attacks.
the area where fires were burning, according to Samir. When fire-fighting teams
eventually entered the area, Muslim groups had severed fire mains. The blazes
raged for four hours.
tear gas eventually broke up the mob.
were rounded up and taken to a police station. They declined to cooperate with
the police, citing alleged irregularities in police reports and objections to
how officers conducted the investigation into the fires.
Muslims tried to help put them out. Samir said he thought the claim was dubious
one, doing it.”
people who attacked their homes or report damages. He also said police did not
take any information about men who suffered physical injuries. The group of
victims has obtained a lawyer to take both criminal and civil action against the
these problems will keep going for years,” Samir said. “Because they try to hide
rubble and try to rebuild their lives. He said his brother is still trying to
[from the walls] was on the ground. They even tried to break the ceramic floor
and take it.”
happened in November 2009 in the village of Kom al-Ahmar, also in Qena
Governorate. For several days, mobs swept through the village burning
Christian-owned houses and businesses after a rumor started that a Christian
man, Girgis Baroumi Girgis, then 21, raped a Muslim girl, then 12. Samir said
people often use rumors in Qena to incite violence against the Christian
boy is in love with a Muslim girl or vice versa,” Samir said.
called the rape accusation into question. They cite the conflicting accounts
from the alleged victim, physical evidence that seems to contradict an
accusation of sexual assault and lack of witnesses to a crime that allegedly
took place in broad daylight on a major thoroughfare of the village.
another sign, interested parties said, that the evidence against him is weak.
afraid,” Demetry said, “We can’t trust anyone.”