Christian Families Evicted From Egyptian Village Following Islamist Attacks

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

CAIRO, EGYPT (Worthy News)-- Eight Coptic families were evicted from their homes in northern Egypt following two attacks by Islamists on Christian homes and businesses in January.

According to International Christian Concern, the attacks were in response to an alleged affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman.

On January 27, hundreds of Salafists looted and torched Christian homes and shops in Kobry el-Sharbat following rumors of the affair; three days later, another group of Muslims again attacked, setting fire to three more homes.

After a series of so-called "reconciliation meetings," village elders, including representatives from the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood agreed to evict eight Coptic families and put their property up for sale, according to Asia News.

"Who gave them the right to form a committee headed by a Salafi to sell Christian property? This is thuggery and the blatant targeting of Copts," said Magdi Khalil, head of the Middle East Freedom Forum. "If we accept this, we will open the door to an avalanche of forced evictions."

Reconciliation meetings not only bypass Egypt's judicial system, but often fail to bring perpetrators to justice. In its 2011 Religious Freedom Report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom concluded that reconciliation sessions "prevented the prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against Coptic Christians and precluded their recourse to the judicial system for restitution," thereby creating a climate of impunity that actually encourages further assaults.

"Reconciliation meetings are nothing more than a method to excuse those responsible for violence, shift blame on the victims, and to completely ignore justice," said Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East. "The recent attack in Kobry el-Sharbat again proves that nothing has changed in the 'new' Egypt after President Mubarak's ouster as perpetrators of attacks against minorities continue to be pardoned and allowed to pursue their bloody campaign to rid the country of Christians. Most disturbing is that the reconciliation meetings were not led by the military council, but by representatives of the very groups that won a majority in Egypt's new parliament and claim to support democracy and a civilian judicial system."