23 July 2013

Egypt: HRW Denounces Sectarian Attacks in Egypt

Photo: Al Jazeera
Mohamed Mursi, Egypt's first elected president.

Egyptian Christians have been targeted in several attacks since the military's ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi, said a Human Rights Watch (HRW) statement issued on Tuesday.

The New York-based NGO urged the Egyptian authorities to investigate the attacks, hold the perpetrators to account and determine whether the police could have prevented or stopped the violence.

"Since Mursi's ouster on July 3, at least six attacks on Christians have taken place in governorates across Egypt, including Luxor, Marsa Matrouh, Minya, North Sinai, Port Said, and Qena," said the HRW.

The deadliest incident, as described by HRW, took place on July 5 where local residents brutally beat to death four Christians inside their home as police and a mob of residents surrounded the house in Naga Hassan, a village near Luxor.

The statement took into account separate incidents in North Sinai this month where unidentified assailants killed three Coptic Christians, including a priest, according to a witness Human Rights Watch interviewed.

In Minya, on the day of Mursi's ouster, his supporters looted and burned St. George's Coptic Catholic church and al-Saleh church in the village of Delga where eight people were injured, according to HRW's statement.

"Other apparent sectarian attacks on Christian churches since Mursi's ouster took place in Marsa Matrouh on July 3, where two witnesses told Human Rights Watch that pro-Mursi protesters attacked St. Mary's church and set fire to a security booth outside the church"

In addition, masked men attacked St. Mina's church in Port Said on July 9.

"Egyptian security forces should be on high alert to prevent and halt sectarian violence in the current tense and polarized situation," said Nadim Houry, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

HRW called on the authorities in Egypt to ensure that prosecutors promptly and impartially investigate allegations of sectarian violence, whether the victims are Christian or Muslim.

"The authorities should also investigate the adequacy of the police response to sectarian violence, and police officers who fail to act appropriately should be held to account."

HRW also urged religious and political leaders to speak out against sectarian violence.

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