August 25, 2013
Church of the Virgin, al-Nazla, Fayoum
This list is limited to attacks verified by EIPR through direct contact with church officials, eyewitnesses and field visits. Attacks for which no primary sources could be reached are excluded, and thus the actual tally of assaults likely exceeds those discussed in this report.
Testimonies indicate that most commonly attacks begin when marches supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsy head to churches or the property of Coptic citizens; they usually end with the partial or complete torching, looting or destruction of the property. They largely take place in the complete absence of security forces, the fire brigade, civil defense or the armed forces. In some cases, Muslim citizens and Copts themselves stand up to these attacks by forming popular committees to protect churches. When this list was issued, there were still churches that could not be accessed by the security and investigating apparatus to determine the scale of damages.
Governorates in Upper Egypt were the most frequent site of the attacks, especially the governorate of Minya, where 18 churches were attacked, most of them torched by marchers demonstrating in support of deposed president Mohamed Morsy. In Sohag, the march that attacked the Sohag bishopric set out from the sit-in being staged by Morsy supporters in the city. In other cases, such as the cities and districts of the Fayoum governorate, calls went out to attack churches from mosques known to be controlled by Islamists.
The fact that these churches were largely empty—their patrons and officials feared reprisals—prevented casualties from reaching catastrophic levels.
The final tally of attacks documented by the EIPR is:
- Torched: 25 churches and monasteries, four Coptic civic associations, two religious libraries, four schools or Coptic associations attached to churches, two social services annexes and an orphanage that was evacuated only a few days prior to the attack.
- Looted and destroyed: seven churches and four schools run by Coptic associations.
- Partially destroyed: five churches
- Pelted with stones and Molotovs: ten churches and the houses of three priests
The geographic spread of these attacks is as follows:
Thursday evening, 15 August: A crowd of demonstrators shot at the Church of the Virgin and Abu Seifein and some nearby Coptic homes in the Ard al-Geneina area of Ezbat al-Nakhl, killing Fawzi Murid, a Copt. The crowd then set fire to a workshop and tok-tok owned by the deceased. The attacks also left three shops and seven cars owned by Copts torched. The sheikh from the neighboring mosque called on area Muslims to head to the church to protect it with “their Christian brothers.” As soon as locals assembled, the assailants fled.
Friday, 16 August: Groups of attackers targeted several churches, including the Mar Girgis church in Hadayeq Helwan, which was pelted with Molotovs (only the facade of the outer building was affected). According to statements, local Muslims and Christians protected the church and prevented the attackers from storming it before army and police forces arrived to secure the building. Attempts were also made to attack the Church of the Virgin and the Mar Girgis Church on the Maadi Corniche when marches in support of deposed president Mohamed Morsy headed there. Popular committees formed by local residents prevented attacks on either of the churches.
Archangel Michael Church, Kerdasa
Wednesday, 14 August: The Archangel Michael Church in the Kerdasa district, comprised of two churches, a services building and an administrative annex, was torched. Following the bloody assault on the Kerdasa police in which the station officers were killed, a pro-Morsy march chanting defamatory slogans against Christian religious leaders headed to the Archangel Michael Church, where some marchers threw stones at the church, stormed the main gate and attacked some young people who had chosen to remain in the church. The assailants also smashed the crosses fixed to the top of the church and looted its contents before setting fire to it. The fire continued until it consumed most of the church contents and its annexes, in the absence of fire fighters or civil defense.
Wednesday evening, 14 August: Two floors of the Church of the Virgin in Kafr Hakim, located in the Kerdasa district, were burned; several icons were smashed and some contents of the church were stolen.
The Church of the Virgin in Mansouriya was stormed and some of its contents looted and vandalized.
The Karmat al-Rusul church, the seat of the Atfih bishopric, was looted in an attack that began during a conference for children from the Mar Girgis Church in Warraq; the children were taken to the home of a nearby Coptic family when the assault began.
Friday, 16 August: The Giza bishopric on Murad Street faced an attempted attack; the security forces confronted the assailants.
al-Amir Tadros al-Shatbi Monastery, Fayoum
Wednesday, 14 August: The Church of the Virgin in al-Nazla, in the district of Youssef al-Siddiq, was torched.
Wednesday, 14 August: The Amir Tadros Church in Manzala, in the Youssef al-Siddiq district, was torched.
Thursday evening, 15 August: The Martyr Damyana Church was torched in al-Zarbi, Tamya district.
Wednesday, 14 August: The evangelical church in al-Zarbi, Tamya district, was stormed and looted.
Wednesday, 14 August: The Bible Friends Association in Fayoum City was torched.
Thursday, 15 August: The Amir Tadros Church in Dasya was torched.
Thursday evening, 15 August: There was an attempt to storm the Mar Girgis church in the Tamya district of Fayoum. Some local Muslim residents confronted the assailants, who threw Molotovs at the home of Father Rafael Sami, the church priest. His garden and several windows in his house were burned.
Beni Soueif governorate
Wednesday, 14 August: The Catholic Franciscan Sisters School was looted and torched.
Thursday and Friday, 15 and 16 August: The façade of the Mar Girgis Church in al-Wasiti was torched and pelted with stones, and attempts were made to storm it over the two-day period. Several windows of the services building and the priest’s private residence were smashed.
Father Moussa Church, Minya
Several marches set out simultaneously on Wednesday morning, 14 August, chanting against Copts and their religious leadership, particularly in the Abu Hilal area, a stronghold of supporters of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya (GI).
The Amir Tadros church, located behind the Minya Security Directorate, was burned to the ground. Although the assailants looted the church prior to torching it, police and army forces took no action to engage with the attack. A group of children was inside the church during the attack, but they were evacuated from the back door as soon as the church was hit with stones.
The services building of the Mar Mina Church and the clinic annex were looted and torched; the fire reached the facade of the church.
The Father Moussa Church, in the Abu Hilal area, was burned to a husk in an attack that began at 9 pm.
The evangelical church, located in Gad al-Sayyed in the Abu Hilal area, was totally looted and burned.
The Baptist Church was burned.
The St. Joseph Convent was burned to the ground.
The Jesuit Association, which holds the oldest library in Minya, was torched.
The YMCA was torched.
The Soldiers of Christ Orphanage, part of the Orthodox Coptic bishopric, was torched.
The Assembly of Coptic Schools, which includes primary, preparatory and secondary schools, was partially burned and entirely destroyed.
The St. Joseph Convent School, primary and preparatory, was torched.
The Holy Bible Press was torched.
Ehab Ahmed Ali and Bishoi Rufael were burned to death inside a tourist boat owned by Coptic businessman Samuel Thabet; the boat was consumed by the fire. Ali was the security director and Rufael was his deputy. The victims took refuge in the bathroom in fear of the mobs that attacked the boat.
Several Coptic-owned shops and businesses were torched, including the houseboat belonging to the Coptic Evangelical Agency, as well as two pharmacies, a cassette tape shop and several private cars.
Friday, 16 August: Following successive attacks for two days, groups supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsy torched the Mar Girgis Church in the village of Dalhasa and smashed the windows and doors of the homes of several local Copts.
The St. Mark’s School was stormed and looted.
The Tawfiq School, owned by the Maghagha bishopric, was stormed and looted.
Beni Mazar district
Wednesday, 14 August: The evangelical church in the city of Beni Mazar was torched.
Wednesday, 14 August: The Baptist church in Beni Mazar was torched.
Thursday evening, 15 August: The iron gate of the Mar Mina Church was broken, the church altar was destroyed and desks and computers stolen.
City of Matay
Friday, 16 August: The bishopric building in Matay was pelted with stones and its walls scaled before security forces intervened to remove the crowd from the scene.
Wednesday, 14 August: The evangelical church in Badini was stormed and looted, and Muslim prayers were conducted in the building. Village Copts were intimidated as crowds banged on their doors and windows.
Abu Qurqas city
The facade and part of the interior of the Mar Girgis Church were burned.
The Good Shepherd School was looted and vandalized.
The evangelical church in Mallawi City was torched and parts of it collapsed.
The Mathal Church in Mallawi City was torched.
The Heart of Jesus Catholic Church was torched.
Deir Mawas district
Wednesday, 14 August: The Virgin and Father Abram Monastery, located in the village of Dilga, was looted and torched and parts of the outside wall destroyed; the monastery contained two churches and a services building.
Wednesday, 14 August: The Mar Girgis Catholic Church in Dilga was torched.
Wednesday, 14 August: The Islah Church in Dilga was looted and vandalized.
Wednesday, 14 August: The home of Father Angelios, the priest of the Church of the Virgin and Father Abram, was torched.
Iskander Tos, 60, was decapitated and his corpse mutilated in the village streets after his home was attacked.
Several homes in Dilga were looted, and Christians were expelled from seven homes, which were summarily appropriated.
Several shops were torched.
The Deir Mawas bishopric was pelted with bricks and the facade of the services building smashed.
The Mar Girgis Church in Deir Mawas was hit with bricks and its windows broken during an attempt to storm it; the windows of the home of the church priest were broken.
The Good Shepherd services building, part of the Deir Mawas bishopric, was torched after it was completely looted.
Numerous Christian-owned shops in Deir Mawas were looted and torched.
The Nahdat al-Qadasa Church was torched.
The Mar Girgis Church was torched and the fire consumed the entire contents of the church.
The St. Therese Church was torched.
The Adventist Church was torched.
The Holy Bible Press was torched.
The Franciscan Sisters convent and school were stormed. As the main gate was being broken, a police patrol passed by and left the assailants to their task.
Several shops were smashed, looted and burned including Newborn Clothes, Cairo Restaurant, an electronics shop, Moment Bazaar and the Akhenaten Hotel; several cars were also torched.
The Church of the Angel on Namis Street was pelted with stones.
The evangelical Church of God was attacked and some of its contents smashed.
In the al-Manfadh area, a Mobinil office was set aflame.
The three-story Mar Yuhanna Church in the city of Abnoub was torched and the fire extended to the neighboring house.
A march by supporters of the deposed president surrounded the Qusiya bishopric. When demonstrators failed to storm it, they set fire to the homes of two Copts and a pharmacy and looted several nearby shops.
Wednesday morning, 14 August: The church complex at the Sohag bishopric was torched; it comprised the Mar Girgis Church, the Church of the Virgin and Father Abram, the Mar Morqos Church, the services building, a VIP guesthouse and the bishop’s residence. The buildings were looted before being set afire. As soon as the assailants stormed the bishopric gates, security forces tasked with protecting the premises fled. Father Bakhoum, the bishop of Sohag, contacted the director of security to ask for security reinforcements to disperse the crowds in front and inside the bishopric, but for an hour no reinforcements arrived. The assailants used a pickup truck to smash in the bishopric gate and threw some 20 propane canisters inside the churches and buildings in the bishopric complex.
Some 12 cars inside the bishopric complex were torched, along with 6 cars outside, a bus owned by the Mar Girgis monastery and 9 shops. All were looted before being set afire. Fire trucks arrived three hours later, but they were intercepted and attacked about 100 meters from the site by pro-Morsy marchers, who prevented them from reaching the scene. The looting and fires continued until midnight.
Marco Emile Atiyya, a 16-year-old Copt, was shot and killed by those taking part in a march in support of the deposed president while they attempted to storm the Tahta bishopric.
Magdi Adli Wahba was killed and his wife Nagla Fayez was injured after they were shot as they were returning from the Tama district to the village of Shatoura in the Sohag district.
The following shops were attacked: Lux sweet shops, Mitri Fabric, Nader al-Kassan Shoes, Sameh Computers, a watch shop, another fabric shop, the Romance Studio and several pharmacies (Mar Mina, Marina and Dr. Andew), as well as the first floor of a building owned by Copts.
A group supporting the deposed president stopped seven Copts on the Cairo-Aswan agricultural road after identifying them through their national identity card; they robbed and detained them for several hours before letting them go after eyewitness reported the incident to the police and army.
The windows of the Church of the Virgin in Nagaa Abu Shagara were broken, but popular committees comprised of local residents defended the church and repelled the assailants.
Friday, 16 August: A group of people assaulted Hegumen Hadra Abd al-Shahid, a priest with the bishopric, after mass when he left the bishopric to move his car away from demonstrations by supporters of the deposed president. Three bearded men snatched the cross from his neck, threw him to the ground and beat him before fleeing on a motorcycle.
Pro-Morsy demonstrators threw Molotovs at the Mar Yuhanna Church in Qena. The church tower caught fire, but those present inside the church managed to put out the flames.
Two apartments on the fourth floor of a building owned by Copt Abduh Rizq were set on fire, while a shop door and several cars were smashed.
Wednesday, 14 August: There were attempts to storm the Mar Girgis Church in Shatbi as assailants tried to force open the door and set two cars outside on fire, among them the car of Father Moussa Mina, the church priest.
Wednesday, 14 August: Participants in a march supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsy stopped Mina Raafat Aziz at Iqbal Street on the Corniche, pulling him out of his car and demanding to see his national ID card. When they ascertained his religion, they smashed the car. Aziz fled, but he was shot and killed on the spot.
Wednesday, 14 August: The Mar Girgis church in Tanta was pelted with stones and Molotovs.
The Good Shepherd Catholic convent was looted and torched after coming under attack by a pro-Morsy march. Initially the assailants broke down the gate and looted part of the monastery before leaving. They then later returned to set fire to the convent complex, which contained a church, a school, a clinic, a kindergarten and the nuns’ quarters.
The old Greek Catholic church on Paradise Street was torched.
The Franciscan Fathers Church and attached school were torched.
North Sinai governorate
Wednesday, 14 August: The Mar Girgis Church in Arish was torched.
The Horus Hotel and the Saint Claus shop on Karnak Street, where Copts are a majority, were looted, as were the Arkhashom leather shops on Cleopatra Street, the Maurice Pharmacy and the facade of the Susanna Hotel; three cars owned by Copts were torched.