File photo: A tear gas canister is fired by Egyptian riot police into the compound of the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after the funeral of four Christians killed in sectarian clashes near Cairo over the weekend in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, April 7, 2013 (Photo: AP)
An Egyptian state-run human rights body has condemned sectarian attacks on Coptic Christians in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya.
The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) issued a statement Monday condemning the attacks targeting Christians in Minya and stating that the “onslaught” proves that Christians are being intentionally targeted because of their religious beliefs.
According to the statement, the attacks included the burning and demolishing of Christian religious centres and Christians’ homes and property. The assaults also included forced displacement, theft and the imposition of a “tax” on some Christian residents.
The statement came after security forces had entered the village of Degla on Monday, a site of a number of attacks on Coptic Christians allegedly carried out by Islamist extremists.
The statement said violations were documented through official appeals filed at police stations and through media coverage, adding that "the onslaught poses a great danger to the issue of human rights in Egypt and cripples the nation's ability to carry out its role of protecting its people's rights, their safety and freedom.”
The council has decided to set up a special committee tasked with writing a comprehensive report to examine the truth behind the recent attacks.
Attacks on churches have seen a massive increase since the forced dispersal of the two Cairo protest camps organised by Morsi’s supporters last month. According to the Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic rights group, 17 churches have been attacked in Minya alone.