The Abu Fana monastery was damaged
during clashes between Muslims and
Copts over a land dispute [AFP]
June 1, 2008
Calm has returned to Deir Abu Fana, a village 210km
south of Egypt's capital, Cairo, after the release of
three monks abducted amid tensions between Muslims and
Violence erupted on Saturday when local Muslims claimed
the expansion of a Coptic monastery was being carried
out illegally on state property.
In Mallawi, a nearby town, on Sunday Coptic Christian
protesters chanted: "With our blood and soul, we will
defend the cross."
They appealed to Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president,
to intervene because "Coptic hearts are on fire".
Father Bulous, a priest at the Mallawi church
who managed to visit the three freed monks in hospital
on Sunday, said: "They said they were tortured, tied up
and beaten and humiliated.
"One monk was hit with the back of a rifle and had his
Deir Abu Fana, in the province of Minya, has a high
proportion of Coptic Christians and contains several
monasteries particularly sacred to the community.
A similar incident took place in Minya in October,
resulting in 20 people receiving injuries.
Deir (Monastery) Abu Fana clash
A Muslim resident of Deir Abu Fana was killed
during Saturday's inter-communal clashes.
Two Coptic Christian workers at the monastery suffered
bullet wounds and were admitted to hospital in a
critical condition, while two monks suffered injuries.
Father Dumadius, who witnessed the attack, said that at
least 60 men carrying weapons stormed the Abu Fana
monastery on Saturday.
"They split into several groups. One group proceeded to
destroy the wall. Others entered a chapel used by the
monks and destroyed and burned property," he said.
Muslim residents of the area claim the agricultural land
on which the monastery's wall is being built as theirs,
and say it is damaging their crops.
The developments in Deir Abu Fana came against a
backdrop of attacks against Christian jewellers over the
past week that prompted one Coptic member of Egypt's
parliament to claim on Thursday that police were not
adequately protecting the community.
Armed men stormed a jewelry shop in Cairo on Wednesday
and killed the Coptic Christian owner and three of his
assistants, but did not steal anything.
The suspected assailant was arrested on Sunday, but
another Coptic-owned jewelry store was targeted the same
day, this time in the port city of Alexandria.
No one was killed, but about $28,000 worth of
merchandise was stolen.
Police claim the incidents are entirely criminal in
nature and not sectarian