A Christian family sitting outside of the entrance of their house was attacked by a known
Islamic extremist wielding a knife November 17th. The incident occurred in a rural Upper Egyptian village located just north of Minya City, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).
The mother, a widow named Houda Hana, received 20 stitches in her head. The younger son sustained minor injuries throughout his body. The middle son, Shenouda, received injuries that required surgery for his liver and intestines. The older son, Mina, was not present during the incident. The family has not been able to return to their home following the attack.
The incident occurred as the family was sitting outside of the entrance of their house, as is a common custom in the villages. Mohammed Eid Moussa walked past their house and began to question why the family would sit in public view. When the Christians asserted their right to sit outside their home, Mohammed fetched a knife from his house and began attacking the Christians.
“It was a very hard moment for me,” Mina told ICC. He is now reunited with his family following the incident. “We can’t get back to the village. Right now, we try to avoid fights and disputes with them. The extremists’ family live in a house which is not far away from us. We will not let them induce us to fight them or anything like that. If we did something like that, we will lose our rights to punish the extremist. We want law enforcement.”
Last year, Mohammed attacked another Christian man with a cleaver. For this reason, many Christians in the village were aware of his violent tendencies. He is known to hate Christians. The police have arrested him, but the family reports pressure from the Church to pursue a reconciliation session, rather than seek justice through the legal system.
“(The family) feels a lot of pain, and we also. The Orthodox priests want to calm the situation down and they stated that this incident is normal and it is not persecution. All the people in the village want to punish this extremist,” said one local priest.
Another local priest added, “The Muslims of the village are polite and good individuals. Even now they don’t offer reconciliation sessions. It was a wrong decision of the priest to state this as a normal dispute. He was just [trying] to calm down the situation. But I think the extremist will be punished anyway; that’s a good indicator that Muslims did not seek reconciliation sessions. The Christians are not afraid of anything right now and seek punishing this man; it’s the second time for him to hurt a Christian man.”
Egypt has the highest concentration of Christians living in the Middle East. Harassment, discrimination, and violence against Christians are commonplace, as they are viewed as second-class citizens since the country is officially Islamic. Egypt is ranked as a Tier 2 Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We are grateful that there were no deaths in this incident and we pray for a speedy recovery for the family. We urge local officials to hold the attacker accountable through the legal system, rather than excluding them from justice by pursuing a reconciliation session. We are glad to hear that the village supports the Christians in this request, and hope that due process of law will be applied to this situation.”