Dozens of Christian churches in Egypt have been attacked by violent mobs since the military’s crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Cairo last week, a human rights investigator reported.
Adam Coogle, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Egypt for the last six days, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that his organization can confirm at least 33 separate attacks on Christian churches, schools and other facilities. Four people have been confirmed dead.
He said the Coptic Church claimed nearly twice that amount of attacks, with 65 churches and monasteries allegedly invaded, looted, burned or destroyed.
Open Doors USA, an organization serving persecuted Christians worldwide, told TheDCNF that 95 churches, monasteries, orphanages and schools were damaged or destroyed nationwide. A further 212 Coptic Christian properties were attacked, with seven Christians killed.
“We tried to independently confirm as many of these as we could, tracking down witnesses, preferably residents, who could tell us what they saw or what happened generally,” Coogle said via phone from Cairo on Tuesday.
He had just returned from two days in Minya, a city in central Egypt along the banks of the Nile River with a disproportionately high Christian population. Most estimates claim that Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s 82 million people.
The researcher recalled a number of assaults, mostly by mobs of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, that took place in Minya over the last few days.
“There’s a Jesuit center in Minya, with several Jesuit priests and brothers,” he told TheDCNF. “I spoke to one Jesuit priest today who said that when the attacks started, they initially attacked from one side and threw Molotov cocktails.”
“They couldn’t get through the iron bars, but they did burn down the administration building and a building where they offered services for handicapped people, people with physical and intellectual disabilities, sort of capacity-building and training,” he continued. “They looted that and burned it to the ground.”
Coogle said that despite the fence, many Molotov cocktails made it into the church, “but they weren’t exploding immediately and the priests there were able to put them out before they exploded.”
He says that when the attackers briefly retreated, priests ran to the local police station to plead for help.
“The police said, ‘No, we can’t. Our orders are to defend the police station,’” he related.
One of the officers briefly drove by the church facilities, but did not stop his vehicle. The attack continued.