EGYPT: Copt dies after attack on Epiphany Service

One Coptic Christian has died and at least 11 others were injured in violent attacks on an eve of Epiphany service being held in Upper Egypt. The attacks took place on Wednesday 18 January in the village of Udaysaat, near the city of Luxor. A large crowd of Muslim villagers, armed with small swords, knives and axes attacked the Copts and then set the building, in which they were meeting, on fire. Coptic Christian Kamaal Shaker died of injuries he received in the attacks – his skull was broken by an axe and he subsequently suffocated as he was trapped inside the burning building.

The attack was prompted by annoyance that the Christians were worshipping in an unlicensed building. It has once again highlighted the difficulties faced by churches in Egypt who are not permitted to erect buildings for worship. The church in Udaysaat had been refused a license to worship in the building since 1971. Last month, President Mubarak moved to ease these regulations but Copts remain sceptical about the impact of his decision. (Compass, US Copts.Assoc.)

CCFC has spoken to Egyptian Embassy officials in Dublin to express concern about this attack and the problems experienced by Christians in building churches in Egypt.