Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church (Reuters)
The head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II called for restraint and coexistence after a sectarian attack by a mob of Muslims against Christians in Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate.
In a statement issued by the Church, the pope warned against anyone who would use what happened in Minya to incite sectarian strife, adding that he was closely following the case.
The attack on Christians erupted in El-Karm village on Friday after a rumour circulated that a Muslim woman and a Christian man had an affair, with a mob of Muslim men attacking several Christian homes in the village.
The elderly mother of the Christian man was also dragged by the mob from her house and stripped of her clothes in public.
On Thursday afternoon, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued a statement ordering officials to hold accountable the perpetrators of the attack.
El-Sisi urged the government to take "necessary measures to preserve public order, protect [citizens] and property within the rule of law."
The pope, who is currently visiting Austria, said he is in contact with security and state officials, who promised to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Egypt’s Al-Azhar institution – the leading religious authority in the Sunni Muslim world – also denounced the attacks in a statement issued Thursday, rejecting all insults or aggression regardless of the beliefs of those involved.
Al-Azhar announced that members of the ‘Family House’ organisation, made up of Al-Azhar sheikhs as well as Coptic Orthodox Church officials, would head to Minya to help resolve the matter.
Al-Azhar also warned that some may use the incident to incite sectarian conflict.
Bishop of Minya Anba Macarius said Thursday in a TV interview that he was promised by Governor Tarek Nasr of Minya that all perpetrators of the incident would be prosecuted.
According to media reports, Nasr held a meeting with elders from El-Karm village in order to resolve the matter.
In the House of Representatives, Minya MPs presented a request to parliament’s Human Rights Committee to investigate the incident.