08/04/2016 Washington, D.C.
(International Christian Concern
) – Only in Egypt does the reconstruction and renovation of your home mean the possible destruction and loss of it.
It was early June when Ayoub Khalaf Fahmy borrowed some money from a friend to renovate his home to better fit him, his wife and their six children. A 75-square-meter house was far too small for the growing family.
As soon as Ayoub began the construction of his home, rumors started circulating in Kom Al-Loufy village. Hateful neighbors were whispering falsities about the purpose of the building, saying that because Ayoub was Coptic, surely this new construction was a church. These rumors were widely believed because roughly 1,800 Christians live in Kom El-Loufy where there is currently no church.
Early on, Ayoub received threats from fanatic Muslim villagers. They promised to burn his house and kill him and his brothers if the construction continued. This led Ayoub and his brothers to reach out to the village elder, a moderate Muslim man, for help.
The elder, Sheik Abdul Wahid Hassan Mohamed Taha, told Ayoub to go to the police about the matter. Ayoub quickly gathered his brothers and 15 other witnesses to go to the Samalout police station where he signed a pledge regarding the intended purpose of the house he was building.
Sadly, despite all of his precaution and care, Ayoub and his brothers were still attacked.
“On Wednesday evening, June 29, a great deal of Muslims attacked our houses while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Come to jihad,” Ayoub later told ICC, “They then destroyed and burnt my new building and they looted and burnt the four houses owned by my three brothers and my mother.”
Ayoub and his family were unable to recover any of their belongings, as they escaped with only the clothes on their back.
“They threw my brother Ibrahim inside the fire, they wanted to burn him alive, but the hand of God was stronger than them and rescued him,” Ayoub recalled.
When emergency responders, including a fire truck, responded to the crisis, the Muslim mob blocked the path of the truck and police officers.
Ayoub explained how despite 12 official complaints filed against the offenders, none have been arrested.
“They are free in the village and they threaten us always to force us to waive the case and reconcile with them,” he told ICC. “But we can’t do that, we can’t waive our rights, our houses were burnt and our properties were looted and destroyed.”
Now, Ayoub’s family, numbering 24, stays together in a 30-square-meter tractor shack in front of their previous homes, devoid of proper necessities including a toilet.
While security forces have been stationed throughout Kom Al-Loufy village since June 29, the Coptic community has suffered a great deal in the form of relentless threats against their families and children in particular.
While it would be nice to report that these threats are void of truth, on July 13, six radical Muslims assaulted Ibrahim, Ayoub’s brother, in front of security forces that did little on his behalf.
Worse still, on July 14, a Coptic girl named Rizka Malak Foukeh, 18, was kidnapped by radicals in the village while taking out the garbage. The family accused six men of committing the act as they had threatened to kidnap her previously that week. The police have yet to address the case.
Now, as these threats are coming to fruition, Christians in Kom Al-Loufy village are in a paralytic state. They stay in their homes and keep their children from going out for fear of continued assault.
Fr. Feltaaos Ibrahim, the priest at the church in which many of these Christians attend, told ICC, “After [the] kidnapping of Rizka, I haven’t seen any one of the Copts form Kom Al-Loufy village coming to the church, they are staying at their homes and are afraid to go out.”