Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority has become a favorite target for Muslim Brotherhood supporters and other radical Islamists across the country in the wake of the military’s decision to clear supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi from their Cairo sit-ins.
No sooner did security forces, backed by armored cars and bulldozers, clear encampments in the city’s Nadha and Raba’a al Adiwiya squares did the Islamists turn to targeting Christian churches. Approximately 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters set fire to the Churches of Abraham and the Virgin Mary in Menya.
Angry mobs also targeted churches, monasteries, and other church properties in Alexandria, Suez, and a number of other cities in Upper Egypt, according to Egypt’s Al-Ahram.
Muslim Brotherhood members also firebombed Mar Geergiss Church, the main Coptic church in the southern Egyptian city of Sohag, burning it to the ground. Islamists had previously raised an al-Qaeda flag over the church. St. Theresa Church in Assiut in Upper Egypt was also burned.
“It is a climate of violence and the people are scared,” Father Rafic Greiche, a Catholic Church spokesman in Egypt, told Vatican Radio.
Sixteen Coptic churches were torched by pro-Morsi mobs, including several ancient ones, the Egyptian blogger “Big Pharoah” wrote in a Twitter post.
Brotherhood supporters blame the Copts for toppling former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi because Coptic Pope Tawadros II backed the military’s July 3 move to oust him.