Egyptian Christians return to worship in church destroyed by Muslim Brotherhood


Copts whose church was one of dozens destroyed by Muslim Brotherhood  supporters have returned to the charred house of worship, with their pastor  vowing the violence suffered by his flock will make them “better  Christians.”

“This will learn us to be better Christians,” said Pastor Sameh Ibrahim of a  torched congregation in Minya, the capital of Minya Governorate in Upper Egypt,  where some 14 churches were reportedly attacked in recent days.

Across  Egypt, at least 60 churches have been targeted, along with Christian schools,  homes,businesses and even an orphanage, according to conservative  estimates. In the areas of Minya, Beni Suef, Fayoum and Assiut, Christian homes  and businesses have received leaflets warning them to leave or face  reprisals by Islamists, Christians said.

Christian homes and businesses  in Minya have reportedly been marked with black X’s to single them out  for attack.

Another pastor in the area shares his concerns. “We live in our church, so  when someone attacks out congregation, it’s as if our house is being attacked,”  said Pastor John Amin of the Meni Mazar church in published remarks.
“Our  children are afraid,” he added.

As violence envelops Egypt, Christians are paying a heavy price with scores  of their most sacred buildings and monuments being systematically destroyed by  members of the Muslim Brotherhood in what one Coptic leader called an attempt at  ethnic cleansing.

The group, which is clashing with the military throughout the North African  nation, has zeroed in on Christians since the Muslim Brotherhood-backed  administration of Mohamed Morsi was ousted on July 3. The military removed him  from power after he imposed several sweeping constitutional changes that  appeared to put the nation of 90 million on a path toward Islamist rule.

“The Muslim Brotherhood continues its attacks on churches to implement their  scheme, which includes ethnic cleansing and the forced displacement of Copts,” Abul Ezz el-Hariri, a Christian and former presidential candidate from  Alexandria, told MidEast Christian News. “Egyptian churches are part of a  blueprint by the MB to lure other Islamist groups.”

At least 50 Christian churches and schools have been looted and set ablaze since  fierce fighting broke out last week. In one recent case, Islamists torched a  Franciscan school and then paraded three nuns on the street like “prisoners of  war” before a Muslim woman offered them refuge, according to Catholic World Report

The campaign of intimidation also has targeted the homes and businesses of  Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the nation’s population. Egypt’s  Christian community is one of the world’s oldest, and generally kept a  low-profile before becoming more active after the ouster of President Hosni  Mubarak and the rapidly spiraling Islamification that followed under Morsi.

Under fire, Christians are solidly backing the military’s harsh crackdown on  the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt…confirms its strong stance with the  Egyptian law enforcement, the armed forces, and all of the institutions of the  Egyptian people in its confrontation of the violent armed organizations,” the  nation’s Christian leader, Pope Tawadros II,  said in a statement.

Monasteries, dioceses, churches, schools and other property of Copts have  been targeted since government security forces broke up Muslim Brotherhood  sit-ins in Raba al-Adaweya and Nahda squares on Wednesday.