Monseigneur Makarios, the Copte Bishop of the Egyptian city, Al-Minya, has been accused by the Egyptian authorities of not speaking out in the wake of the growing number of attacks by Islamists on Christians.

Two weeks ago, several Islamists attacked the house of a Christian in Ezbet Zoltan because they suspected that it was being used as a church. A similar incident took place last week in the neighbouring village of Demshav Hachem. Houses have been looted and burnt. Three men, one of whom was one of the assailants, have been wounded.

From the time of the Ottoman Occupation, Egyptian Christians have been forced to obtain authorization from the state to build churches. In 2016, a law that allegedly fostered relationships between different communities, gave the police the exclusive power to grant a licence to establish a church. However, there are a large number of policemen who keep up their ties with the Islamists and who attend the mosques. Currently, more than 150 Egyptian cities with robust Christian communities are waiting for permission to build churches.

On 11 January 2016, the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, undertook to resolve this problem, when the Copts celebrated their Christmas. He has not reacted publicly to these most recent events.

Anoosha Boralessa