Muslim Mob Stabs Christian to Death in Southern Egypt

Mob attacks families of two priests with knives, batons over personal feud, stoking anger among Christians amid a spike in assaults on their community.

Coptic Christians walk outside St. Markos Church in Minya, south of Cairo, Egypt, January 6, 2015.
Roger Anis, AP

A Muslim mob in southern Egypt stabbed a Coptic Christian to death over a personal feud, officials said Monday, stoking anger among Christians amid a spike in assaults on their community.

Bishop Macarious of the southern Minya governorate said the mob attacked the families of two priests with knives and batons in the village of Tahna al-Gabal late Sunday.

A family member, Fam Khalaf, 27, was killed and the father of one of the priests was wounded. Police said they arrested four people in connection to the incident.

On Monday, mourners gathered at a local church for prayers for the dead and protests. Marching to the graveyard, they chanted "with blood and soul, we redeem the cross."

Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt's mostly Muslim population. Sectarian violence occasionally erupts, mainly in rural communities in the south. Islamic extremists have also targeted Christians.

On Saturday, a group of Muslims attacked and torched houses of Christians in the village of Abu-Yacoub, also in Minya, following a rumor that a Christian intended to turn a kindergarten into a church. Security forces arrested at least 14 people. Last week, in another Minya village, Kom al-Lufi, a group of hard-liners attacked and torched houses of Christians after a similar rumor.

In May, a Muslim mob stripped an elderly Christian woman of her clothes and paraded her on the streets of another Minya village, following a rumor that her son had an affair with a Muslim woman. The incident sparked public uproar and prompted Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi to publicly vow to bring the attackers to justice.

Egypt's Orthodox Coptic Christians strongly supported al-Sissi's ouster of his Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group. Following Morsi's toppling, many Islamists claimed that Christians had conspired with the military against them. Attacks on Christian homes, businesses and churches subsequently surged in the south.