Islamists hit Christian churches in Egypt

A Christian evangelical church is left in ruins Saturday after it was ransacked, looted and burned by a mob in the Egyptian province of Malawi, where protesters attacked two Christian churches, security officials said.

Associated Press

A Christian evangelical church is left in ruins Saturday after it was ransacked, looted and burned by a mob in the Egyptian province of Malawi, where protesters attacked two Christian churches, security officials said.

CAIRO — During the continuing unrest in Egypt, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority.

The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.

Christians have long suffered from discrimination and violence in Muslim majority Egypt, where they make up 10 percent of the population of 90 million. Attacks increased after the Islamists rose to power in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power, emboldening extremists.

Christians have faced new attacks since President Mohammed Morsi's July 3 ousting sparked a wave of Islamist anger led by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. Nearly 40 churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged since Wednesday, when chaos erupted after Egypt's military-backed interim administration moved in to clear two camps packed with protesters calling for Morsi's reinstatement.

Many Morsi supporters say Christians played a disproportionately large role in the days of mass rallies, with millions demanding that he step down ahead of the coup.

Despite the violence, Egypt's Coptic Christian church renewed its commitment to the new political order Friday, saying in a statement that it stood by the army and the police in their fight against "the armed violent groups and black terrorism."

Islamists hit Christian churches in Egypt 08/17/13 [Last modified: Saturday, August 17, 2013 10:58pm]

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