Thursday, January 19, 2006
Youths try to halt church building in Egypt
ASSIUT, Egypt, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Egyptian police clashed overnight with a group of young men who had tried to stop Christians starting work on a new church in southern Egypt, a security source said on Thursday.
Twelve people were wounded in the clashes in the village of el-Udaysaat near the southern town of Luxor, about 500 km (300 miles) south of Cairo.
The Christians called the police when the group set fire to building materials with which they planned to turn a house into a church. They did not have official permission to build the church, the source said.
The problem is that it is literally impossible to build new churches in Egypt. Unlike building new mosques, the restrictions and red tape placed on building churches are crippling. So there had been several incidents where Christians just went ahead and worked on converting a house to a church since they can't obtain a permission to build a new church to serve the community they are in. In many of these cases, zealot Muslim radicals who consider it anathema for a church to be in their midst attack the site to halt the building of the church.
Egypt that once prided itself in the number of Jewish synagogues it had has now radicals tearing churches down. What a shame.