A mob of Muslims attacked Coptic Christians in Egypt due to an alleged Facebook post from a man who said his account was hacked.
A young Christian man in Egpyt allegedly posted a comment on his Facebook account, causing Muslims in the governorate of Minya to get angry, the Independent Catholic News agency reported. The man was rumored to have posted an article that was deemed offensive to Islam and Mohammad.
Hundreds of local Muslim villagers, responding to the said post, gathered together and attacked the homes and properties of local Christians living in Barsha village on Nov. 25. They also attacked the church of Abou Sefin, where a congregation of Coptic Orthodox Christians were preparing to begin a fast.
The militants used stones and molotov cocktails during the attack, causing massive damage to all affected properties. Some Coptic houses and shops were ransacked. The mob also attacked a minibus that belonged to the church and burned it in the process.
While the UK-based NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported that no one got hurt in the incident, the ICN reported that an elderly Coptic Christian woman was hurt by the fires her home sustained in the attack and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Police quickly responded to quell the chaos and restore calm to the situation. They also arrested some local Muslims and Christians who were involved in the clashes. Those arrested included 35 Copts.
General Osama Al Qadi, the Governor of the Minya Province, quickly called for a meeting to find a solution to the crisis and put a stop to the sectarian attacks. The meeting was attended by a number of key people, including representatives of the Committee for Reconciliation and Religious Endowments, the University of al Azhar and the Coptic Church.
The meeting also included a representation from the House of the Egyptian Family, an interreligious liaison body created to prevent or mitigate sectarian controversies.
Incidents such as these were previously settled through public gatherings called "reconciliation meetings." These gatherings were attended by local authorities and leaders from different faith communities. Nowadays, however, some have doubted the effectiveness of these meetings.
General Al Qadi said in the meeting that actions will be taken against those who "offends others." The official also said "no one will be allowed to sow discord between people who belong to the same nation." He then reminded Muslim Imams to teach congregations about coexistence and tolerance.
CSW CEO Scot Bower, speaking about the said incident, urged the Egyptian government to thoroughly investigate what happened so that those who are responsible for the problem can be brought to justice. He said "the Egyptian government must do far more to combat sectarian violence and bring an end to the culture of collective punishment in the Minya region."
Bower added that the Egyptian government should work with human rights organizations to foster religious diversity and equality of citizenship. This comes amid a recent increase in the number of human rights defenders that were arrested in Egypt.
The young Christian man who was rumored to have posted the comment that sparked the outrage in Barsha village said his account was hacked. His name is withheld for his own safety. The post had also since been taken down.