10 people sentenced to five years in prison over sectarian violence in Upper Egypt’s Minya in 2016

Menna Alaa El-Din , Tuesday 15 Jun 2021

A view of the High Court of Justice in Cairo, Egypt (Reuters)

A Minya Criminal Court handed five-year prison terms to ten people and acquitted 14 others over sectarian violence against Copts in Upper Egypt’s Minya in 2016.

A judicial source said that two of the defendants sentenced to jail on Tuesday have previously stood trial in a separate case involving stripping an elderly Coptic woman off her clothes during the same mob attack.

The sectarian attack in the village of El-Karm in 2016, which included torching and vandalizing Copts’ homes, followed a rumour that a Muslim woman and a Christian man were involved in an affair.

The violent mob attack saw the stripping and dragging of an elderly Coptic woman through the village in an incident that shocked the country.

74-year-old Soad Thabet’s home was attacked, along with the homes of other Christians in the village, by an angry mob following a rumor that her son was having an affair with a Muslim woman in the village.

In January 2020, the court sentenced the three defendants in the case in absentia to ten years for assaulting and stripping the old woman of her clothes.

The three defendants — a father and his two sons — were then acquitted in a re-trial later in the same year after they turned themselves to the authorities.

However, Egypt’s prosecutor-general has ordered earlier this year an appeal against the acquittal of the three men. 

No new trial or legal proceedings have been set yet. 

Commenting on the sentence, Thabet told Masrawy that nothing would make up for the harm done against her and her children during the mob attack.

She said the incident forced her and her children to leave the village and reside in another town.

“I have suffered since the incident. Our house that had my children’s merchandise has been looted and set ablaze. Around 25 people assaulted us, with most of them released. I know that God would not accept injustice,” she said. 

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