(AINA) — Thousands of Muslims attacked and besieged Copts in elGhorayzat village, population 80,000, killing two Copts and severely wounding others, as well as looting and torching homes and businesses. A quarrel between a Copt, John Hosni, and Mahmoud Abdel-Nazeer, who later died in hospital, turned into collective punishment of all Copts in the majority Christian village of elGhorayzat, in the Maragha district of Sohag province. Muslims vowed not to bury Abdel-Nazeer until John Hosni is punished. Mr. Hosni fled from the village with his family, “fearing a wholesale massacre of Copts,” reported activist Mariam Ragy.
The events started on Monday, November 28, when John Hosni, a building supplier, had a quarrel with his neighbor, Mahmoud Abdel-Nazeer (48), over some steel rods and cement Mr. Hosni had left in the street to use for erecting a wall around his house. This was perceived by Mr. Abdel-Nazeer as extending the home into the street, which is public property. “Instead of reporting this building transgression to the police or local authorities, Abdel-Nazeer took the matter in his own hands and brought some Salafists and torched the store and the home of the Copt,” said an eyewitness.
In the altercation between the neighbors, Mr. Hosni hit Abdel-Nazeer in the head with a wooden branch, which lead to his death later in hospital.
Angry Muslims murdered two Christian brothers, Kamel Tamer Ibrahim (55) and Kameel Tamer Ibrahim (50), in revenge. The brothers were not a party to the altercation. Kamel Tamer, who was defending his shop from looting, was murdered in front of his wife. His brother was also murdered in front of his wife for defending his home (video of the murdered Copts. WARNING: contains highly graphic content).
Three other Christians, Maher Samir Gota, his wife, and his brother Osama Samir Gota, were severely injured and are in intensive care. They were in their homes when their shop was broken into and looted by Muslims. Maher and his wife were stabbed and Osama received a blow on the head. The ambulance could not go to them to transport them to hospital. He was privately transported by his friends. There were reports of Muslims preventing the fire brigades from reaching the burning homes.
After killing the Copts, Muslims went on a rampage, looting and burning Christian owned homes and businesses.
Despite killing the two Coptic brothers the Muslims insist they have not yet avenged Abdel-Nazeer’s death.
“This is not revenge; this is simply an excuse to kill people because they are Christians, as well as loot their property,” said an eyewitness.
“Security was present in all the streets, and protected the churches, but they did nothing in the face of Muslims killings, looting and torching of Christian property,”, said another eyewitness, who managed to get out of the village “by a miracle,” as he put it, leaving all his belongings and money behind. “We do not know whether we will be able to go back to the village as the Muslims refuse to bury the dead Muslim before killing all Copts in the village.”
He added that Muslims are openly walking the streets carrying firearms and clubs while the police standby and do nothing. The number of police is not enough, there are 500 Muslims for every one policeman.
Copts have been prevented from fleeing the village by Muslims, who have imposed a blockade. Some were able to flee with the aid of some Muslims, who drove them out in a truck, telling the guards at the exit point these people have nothing to do with the ongoing problem.
Christian inhabitants are still afraid to venture into the streets.
Father Lucas Aghapios, pastor of St. George’s Church in alGhorayzat, described the situation in the village today as “cautioned” peace. He said that although the Muslim attack started at 11 AM, security forces turned up late in the evening, and Muslim transgressions occurred in the presence of the security forces. Father Lucas said that yesterday Muslim attacks resulted in 25 incidents of looting and torching of Christian-owned shops, in addition to 8 homes. He confirmed the eyewitness accounts of the events, but could not confirm that John Hosni had surrendered to the police. “Yesterday John Hosni was in a safe place, but he is not in the village, I do not know his whereabouts.” He does not know whether any Muslims were arrested in connection with the slaughtering of the two Coptic brothers.
A funeral for Abdel-Nazeer was held on Tuesday.
Bishop Bachoum of Sohag said this evening on CTV Coptic Channel that funerals for the two Copts were held in Sohag and they were buried in their village of elGhorayzat, under heavy security. He said that efforts are under way for a “reconciliation” meeting between Muslim and Christians elders.
Commenting on the elGhorayzat events, Dr. Fawzi Hermina, a Coptic activist who lives in Sohag, said that Copts are living in a state of Statelessness — with no state, no security and no law. “Unfortunately the Copts, being the weak party in society, are paying the price.”
By Mary Abdelmassih