For several days massive mobs of Muslims have been attacking Coptic Christians in the Egyptian town of Farshoot 300 miles south of Cairo. The mobs’ looting, vandalism and arson have caused at least $1 million in damage as Copts hide indoors for fear of their lives.
Many Copts have been attacked and injured, the Coptic American Friendship Association (CAFA) says. Coptic priest Rev. Benjamin Noshi suffered a fractured skull in the attacks and is now hospitalized.
Nearly 3,000 Muslims have been damaging and looting at least 50 Christian-owned shops, including jewelry stores and pharmacies. Most Coptic businesses in Farshoot have been looted or burned and many families have been thrown out of their homes by other Muslim residents.
The attacks were sparked by a claim that a 20-year-old Christian man, who is in custody, had a relationship with a 12-year-old Muslim girl.
Coptic Bishop Kirollos of Farshoot said that the attacks were planned ahead of time. He suggested that the principal of an Islamic institute in the town motivated his students to attack Christians. The bishop also criticized the security forces, who reportedly disappeared without making any arrests despite victims’ demands that they end the attacks.
“It has become clear that the organized violence is spreading out to more villages only to target the Christian lives and businesses while the police continue to watch,” CAFA reports. “The last 90 days witnessed at least seven similar attacks on Christian villages, where at least five Copts were killed, many Coptic girls and women were abducted and forced to embrace Islam with the assistance of the Egyptian authorities.”
CAFA appealed to American and international human rights organizations to demand that the Egyptian government take immediate action to protect Christian lives and properties.
According to CAFA, there are about 18 million Copts in the Middle East.