Security forces carried out a campaign against “criminal spots” on Monday morning in Delga village, arresting 56, according to a statement by the Ministry of Interior .
Delga is located in the governorate of Minya and is the nearest village to Minya’s desert road. Sectarian violence in the village led to several church attacks as well as attacks on private property and stores belonging to Christians.
The security campaign came as part of the Interior Ministry’s efforts to “restore security and stability to the Egyptian street.” The campaign involved both police and the Armed Forces. The 56 who were arrested were wanted for assaults on “police forces and institutions, as well as religious and governmental institutions.” In addition to the arrests, seven weapons were seized in the ongoing campaign.
Researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Ishak Ibrahim said the situation is much calmer after the security campaign, adding that people are in their homes now.
The National Council for Human Rights said in statement on Monday that “it noticed with deep concern the escalating attacks targeting Christians in Minya specifically.” In addition to attacks on churches, houses and stores, the council said “Christians were forcibly displaced.”
The council said the complaints it received from citizens, as well as those presented to police and media coverage indicate that there is a “systematic targeting” of Christians in several areas because of their religious identity, “which is a grave danger to the human rights situation in Egypt.”
A report released by (EIPR) on Monday on sectarianism between 30 June and 9 July showed that Delga was not an isolated incident. It detailed incidents of sectarian violence across the country in Luxor, North Sinai, Port Said, and Marsa Matruh.
The report stated that in Delga, trouble began as early as 30 June, when local youth roamed the streets “repeating sectarian chants” and pelting the homes of Christians with rocks.
Ibrahim said sectarian issues before Morsi’s removal were “small trouble” compared to the escalation that has happened since, which the minister said included “looting and burning stores and homes,” Ibrahim said.
He said the village had a total of five churches, three of which are Anglican, and the remaining two are Orthodox and Catholic with the Catholic being the biggest of them all. One of the Anglican churches as well as Orthodox and Catholic ones were attacked, he added.
30 June saw nationwide protests in response to calls by the Tamarod campaign, which demanded early presidential elections.
Within days, on 3 July, Defence Minister Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi announced the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.
The EIPR report said that after Al-Sisi’s announcement, the Mar Girgis Coptic Catholic Church was attacked by Muslim villagers who beat the Muslim head guard, prompting the rest of the security to leave. A building belonging to the church was looted and then set ablaze, completely destroying the first of three floors. Ayoub Youssef, the patron of the church, told state-run Al-Ahram on Monday that security forces have been absent from the governorate, especially in Delga, since the beginning of events on 30 June.
Ibrahim said that the situation had calmed somewhat, then on 14 August, the same day that Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Greater Cairo were dispersed, the Church of Virgin Mary and Father Abram was attacked. Another church was also attacked on that day.
Ibrahim said that all the sectarian violence in Delga has left two people dead and two kidnapped, one was found and the fate of the other, who was kidnapped three days ago, is still unknown.