Egypt prosecution investigating attack on Christians in Giza town

Ahram Online , Sunday 24 Dec 2017

Egyptian prosecutors have opened an investigation into an incident that took place on Friday in the Giza town of Atfih, where a mob of Muslims stormed a building over a rumour that the structure will soon be officially recognised as a church, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.

A number of Christians were injured in the attack and taken to Atfih Hospital, according to a statement by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The prosecution is questioning six suspects who were arrested for inciting violence.

According to the investigators, the building was being used by Christian worshipers without a permit.

Atfih's Coptic Orthodox Archbishopric said in a statement on Saturday that Christians have been holding prayer services at the building for 15 years.

The Archbishopric added that it had filed a request with authorities for the building to be formally recognised as a church in accordance with a 2016 law easing regulations on building churches in Egypt.

Before the law was passed, Egyptian Christians – estimated at around 10 -15 percent of the country's nearly 100 million people – had long struggled to obtain permits to build churches, with the process at times taking years.

Some congregations were forced to build unlicensed churches or carry out their religious rites in buildings that were not officially designated for religious use. The presence of these unlicensed churches has occasionally sparked sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians in rural areas.

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