Before the violence that shook this small village last week, there were warning signs.
On June 30, when millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest against now ousted President Mohamed Morsi, residents of Al Nazla marked Christian homes and shops with red graffiti, vowing to protect Mr. Morsi's electoral legitimacy with “blood.”
Relations between Christians and Muslims in the village, which had worsened since Morsi's election in 2012, grew even more tense as Islamists spread rumors that it was Christians who were behind the protests against Morsi and his ouster by the military on July 3.
Finally, on the morning of Aug. 14, the tension erupted. In Cairo, the police attacked two protest camps full of Morsi supporters, using live ammunition and killing hundreds. When the news reached Al Nazla, a local mosque broadcast through its loudspeakers that Christians were attacking the protesters, say residents. Hundreds of villagers marched on the Saint Virgin MaryChurch. They broke down the gate and flooded the compound, shouting “Allahu akbar” and “Islam is the solution,” according to Christian neighbors.
“First they stole the valuable things, and then they torched the place,” says Sami Awad, a church member who lives across the narrow dirt alley from the church. “Whatever they couldn't carry, they burned.”
The Coptic Orthodox church had just opened in April after 13 years of construction, in a country where the government strictly curtails building permits for churches. Now, its elaborate dome stands above a ruined, charred interior. The walls are blackened and rubble litters the floor. A picture of Jesus is half burned, the charred edges curling where they were licked by flames.
“The religion of God is Islam,” reads graffiti sprayed in yellow on a wall of the church. Three burned out cars, one of them upside down, rest in the courtyard. Next to the gate, sprayed in black, is another phrase: “Victory or martyrdom.”
The Saint Virgin Mary church in Al Nazla is one of 47 churches and monasteries that have been burned, robbed, or attacked since Aug. 14 in a wave of violence against Christians since the brutal police crackdown on the former president's supporters, according to Ishak Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. He adds that dozens of Christian schools, other religious buildings, homes, and shops have also been attacked and burned, and seven Christians killed. Police have done little to stop the attacks.
Amid escalating violence against Egypt’s Copts, churches in Minya, located in upper Egypt, cancelled Sunday Mass for the first time in 1,600 years. Other churches in Minya also didn’t hold prayer services.
He said supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi destroyed the monastery, which includes three churches, one of which is an archaeological site. “One of the extremists wrote on the monastery’s wall, ‘donate [this] to the martyrs’ mosque,’” Lotfy added
Terrorists 'Aim To Hit Israeli, Jewish Targets Worldwide' In Coming Weeks
Israeli and Jewish targets all over the world are likely to be sought out by terrorist organizations in the coming weeks, the Israeli government’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau warned in strikingly strident tones on Monday, listing dozens of countries where it said it had “concrete” indications of a terrorist threat.
It cited concerns about terrorist acts timed to coincide with the forthcoming Rosh Hashana (New Year), Yom Kippur and Succot festivals, and also said that the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US was likely to be “a favored period” for al-Qaeda and other global jihadist groups to attempt to carry out acts of terrorism
Iran and Hezbollah, it warned, were continuing their “global terror campaign” against Israeli and Jewish targets. It noted that Iran remained bent on avenging alleged Israeli responsibility for the killing of Hezbollah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh in a Damascus car-bombing in 2008, and the deaths of three Iranian nuclear scientists.