Congregants stood outside their church gate in the Egyptian village of Koum Al Farag recently, watching the local authorities order that the church building be demolished. According to Open Doors the 15-year-old church, which served 3000 Christians in the village, was the place where these believers got married, where their children were baptised, and where they said their last goodbyes to loved ones.
Why were the authorities demanding the destruction of a completely legal church?
The congregation had just built a Sunday school room alongside the main church building. With such a large congregation, the simple church hall had become too small.
“We decided to build an extra two storeys on the church hall for church activities such as Sunday school classes, which was legal for us to do,” explains church member and deacon Bishoy over the phone. “But as soon as we started the building work, extremist Muslims attacked us. Luckily, this first attack was stopped by moderate Muslims in our village.”
Open Doors reports the extremists didn’t give up: they started to build a mosque on the agricultural land next to the church – which they say was illegal. “We believe they built it out of protest,” Bishoy says. “Our village already has four mosques and another one wasn’t really needed. On top of that, they build it without the use of a foundation.”
The local authorities’ ‘solution’ was to demolish not only the illegal mosque, but the legal church building as well.
“The church lawyer made an official appeal against this order, but the mayor ignored it – despite being informed – and sent 200 policemen without warning,” says Bishoy.
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SOURCE: Assist News, Peter Wooding