The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) condemns the inaction of Egyptian authorities following a mob’s attack on Coptic Christians in the Upper Egyptian Minya province.
On Friday, May 20, approximately 300 armed men looted and damaged the homes of seven Coptic families in the al-Karm village of Minya, in response to rumors of a romantic relationship between a Christian man, Ashraf Abdo Attiya, and a Muslim woman. During the attack on Coptic families’ homes, Attiya’s mother was dragged into the street, stripped of her clothing, and beaten.
Authorities failed to respond appropriately to the assault. A complaint filed by Attiya’s mother was initially ignored by police, and the governor of Minya denied that the incident had even occurred. It was not until almost a week later, on May 26, that President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi instructed authorities to take measures necessary to address the situation. Later that day, the interior ministry alleged that it had arrested five individuals at the time of the incident and an additional five on the 26. The Minya Archbishopric’s account of police inaction at the time of the incident contradicted the ministry’s claims.
The inability or unwillingness of police to promptly intervene infringes on the rights of the victims, allows perpetrators to evade justice, and undermines the rule of law. Thus, the inadequacy of this response may enable additional sectarian violence throughout Egypt.
“The authorities’ failure to address this sectarian attack in a timely manner is deeply troubling as it allows the perpetrators of these acts to continue committing them with impunity,” said TIMEP Executive Director Nancy Okail. “Moreover, such inaction contributes to a deficiency in governance that serves as fertile ground for greater instability.”
Authorities’ continued failure to respond to sectarian attacks violates the rights of all Egyptian citizens—Christians, Muslims, other religious groups, and the nonreligious—to the equal protection of the law.
Eshhad, a project documenting sectarian violence in Egypt and housed at TIMEP, has documented over 400 sectarian incidents against a variety of religious groups since August 2013.
The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of democratic transitions in the Middle East through analysis, advocacy, and action.