(AINA) — A mob of over 3000 Muslims attacked Copts in the village of Kobry-el-Sharbat (el-Ameriya), Alexandria this afternoon. Coptic homes and shops were looted before being set ablaze. Two Copts and a Muslim were injured. The violence started after a rumor was spread that a Coptic man had an allegedly intimate photo of a Muslim woman on his mobile phone. The Coptic man, Mourad Samy Guirgis, surrendered to the police this morning morning for his protection.
According to eyewitnesses, the perpetrators were bearded men in white gowns. “They were Salafists, and some of were from the Muslim Brotherhood,” according to one witness. It was reported that terrorized women and children who lost their homes were in the streets without any place to go.
According to Father Boktor Nashed from St. George’s Church in el-Nahdah, a meeting between Muslim and Christian representatives was supposed to take place in the evening in Kobry-el-Sharbat. But, by 3 P.M. a Muslim mob looted and torched the home of Mourad Samy Guirgis, as well as the home of his family and three homes of Coptic neighbors. A number of Coptic-owned shops and businesses were also looted and torched. “We contacted security forces, but they arrived very, very late,” Said Father Nashad. The fire brigade was prevented from going into the village by the Muslims and the fires were left to burn themselves out. “Those who lost their home, left the village,” said Father Nashed.
Coptic activist Mariam Ragy, who was covering the violence in Kobry-el-Sharbat , said it took the army 1 hour to drive 2 kilometers to the village. “This happens every time. They wait outside the village until the Muslims have had enough violence, then they appear.” She said that she spoke to many Copts from the village this evening who said that although their homes were not attacked, Muslims stood in the street asking them to come to their homes to hide. “They believed that this was a new trick to make them leave, so that Muslims would loot and torch their homes while they were away,” said Ragy.
The Gov of Alexandria visited al-Nahda, near Kobry-el-Sharbat, this evening and told elYoum 7 newspaper that the two Copts and one Muslim who were injured were transported to hospital. He said that the family of the Muslim girl whose image was on the Copt’s mobile phone wanted revenge from the Coptic man. They broke into his home and torched a furniture factory located in the same building.
Joseph Malak, a lawyer for the Coptic Church in Alexandria, said it is too early to count injuries to Copts or losses to their property.
Mr. Mina Girguis, of the Maspero Youth Union in Alexandria, said that “collective punishment of Copts for someone else’s mistake, which is yet to be determined, is completely unacceptable.” He believes that the reason for this violence is fabricated, and the military is behind it. “They are trying to divert the attention from the second revolution which is taking place now.”
Father Nashed denied that Islamists were present, only ordinary village Muslims, and could not give an explanation as why people who have lived together amicably for years could commit such violence. “Maybe because of lack of security, they think that they can do as they please.”
He said that the nearly 65 Coptic families were ordered to stay indoors and not to open their shops and businesses tomorrow. He added that security forces did not arrest any of the perpetrators, “on the contrary, they were begging the mob to go home.”
By midnight the violence had subsided.
By Mary Abdelmassih