Fourteen residents from Al-Naghmeish village in Sohag governorate were referred to prosecution on Saturday over charges of inciting riots and forming a mob, following attacks that took place on Friday against a residence owned by a Copt, according to state-run newspaper Akhbar Al-Youm.
Meanwhile, Sohag’s governor Ayman Abdel Moneim asserted on Saturday evening that stability had been restored in Al-Naghmeish village. The attacks on Friday afternoon resulted in the damage of 15 houses owned by Coptic citizens.
The riots started when a number of Al-Naghmeish’s residents, believed to be Muslim, attacked a private residence of a Coptic citizen. Assailants believed that the Coptic owner was going to turn his residence to a church, editor-in-chief of Copts United news website Nader Shoukry told Daily News Egypt.
According to state-run newspaper Akhbar Al-Youm, which quoted Abdel Moneim, the Coptic owner was permitted a licence in 2014 to establish a residence not a church, adding that everyone has the right to a place of worship, as long as it is legally sound.
In the same context, Sohag’s director of security Mostafa Moqabel noted in a media statement that security forces are still stationed in the village, even after 14 residents were referred to prosecution.
On Saturday, the priest of the village, Alkas Marquious, told the Copts United news website that the residence included a nursery and a place where elderly people could pray. This outraged the attackers, leading them to start chanting and throwing stones and molotov cocktails.
Shoukry said that the assailants consisted of around 2,000 people, including families and children.
In September, similar violent clashes took place between Muslims and Christians in Assem village in Minya governorate, after which 16 defendants were arrested and referred to prosecution over accusations of inciting riots and chaos.
Similar clashes or disputes regularly reach an end after the interference from high-ranking officials in the same province or clerks who usually seek reconciliation to end any sectarian strife.
In the aftermath of the clashes in Minya, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had instructed respective authorities to hold those responsible accountable, and instructed the governor to coordinate with the armed forces to restore the buildings that were damaged during the incident within a month. He had added that the state will cover the expenses.