Truce in southern Egyptian village following sectarian incident

Nada Hussein Rashwan, MENA, Saturday 1 Oct 2011

Municipal authorities and families of the small Aswan village pursue damage control after a group of Muslims attacked a hall used for Coptic sermons

Yesterday, a group of Muslims in the small village of Mary-Nab in Aswan attempted to set fire to a hall known for hosting Coptic sermons, after the hall’s owner decided to turn the hall into a church without legal permission.

The governor of Aswan announced today that he has conducted a meeting with the village’s wisemen and the owner of the hall, along with a representative from the Coptic Church. The meeting resulted in an agreement that the owner would remove installed domes at the hall as soon as possible, under pressure of the Church concerning the illegality of constructing the church without legal authorisation.

According to Al-Ahram newspaper, Muslim residents of Mary-Nab village were angered at the decision of the Coptic owner of the hall to build a church on its grounds. Al-Ahram also reports that the Imam of the village’s mosque called on the village’s Muslims to bring down the newly constructed domes that carry crosses, built on top of the hall.

After Friday prayers, a group of 150 men encircled the hall and attempted to burn down the domes, but the fire missed, hitting a wood warehouse next to the hall. The fire was shortly controlled by the municipal civil defence firefighting department. Security forces soon managed to gain control over the area.

The owner of the hall previously agreed to take down the domes, but two months passed and nothing was done.

No Coptic citizens were attacked during the incident, and the fire did not not result in casualties.

A group named “Coptics without borders ” issued a statement on its Facebook page, calling for a protest tomorrow to condemn the incident.

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