Thursday 26 May 2016

Statement by HG Bishop Makarius of Menia and Comment by HG Bishop Angaelos on the incidents in El-Karm Village on May 20, 2016

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

Statement by
His Grace Bishop Makarius of Menia
on the incidents in El-Karm Village on May 20, 2016

And comment by His Grace Bishop Angaelos
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

26 May 2016
The shameful incidents started in the village of El-Karm, located four kilometres from the town of El-Fekreya, near Abou Korkas, after rumours of an alleged relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman. The Christian man, whose name is Ashraf Abdou Attia, has been the subject of threats which forced him to flee the village, whilst his father and mother went to Abou Korkas police station to file an official complaint on Thursday May, 19 2016. The complaint specifically mentioned threats they had received, and their expectation that these threats would be acted upon the following day.

As expected, on Friday May 20, 2016 at 20:00 a mob of approximately 300 men carrying weapons attacked seven Christian homes, stealing all their contents and burning some of them to the ground, causing damage to the value of approximately 350,000 Egyptian Pounds.

During these attacks, the assailants stripped an elderly Christian woman of her clothes and paraded her in the middle of the street before a large crowdchanting and shouting. The security forces reached the village at 22:00 of the same night and arrested six people out of the 300, who are currently under investigation.

We trust that no honest person would accept this behaviour, and we also trust that the state agencies will take the relevant action, and not merely look on from a distance as observers. Based on this expectation, we thank the state agencies in advance, and trust that they will make every effort to holding all those involved accountable for their actions.

Having spoken directly with Bishop Makarius, and commenting on his statement and recent incidents, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom said:

It is indeed shameful that such mob crimes can be perpetrated against innocent communities at all, of whatever faith or ethnicity, and especially as a result of slanderous and unsubstantiated rumours; and that an elderly mother could be so publicly and indecently humiliated. What is also unacceptable is the utter disinterest (at best) and/or complicit and criminal negligence (at worst) with which the local security services conducted themselves, and the Menia Governor’s denial that these crimes occurred.

Egypt is at a formative stage of its contemporary history which requires a robust system of law and order that underpins an ethos of equal citizenship and accountability. Any such steps taken at the national level are severely hampered and undermined by these recurring failures at the local level.

Our prayers are with the families and community directly affected by these incidents, as well as with all those involved in the genuine work of transparent and sensitive healing that must be carried out to repair this now broken community, in a way that leads to a peaceful and mutually-respectful existence.’