CAIRO: Dozens of Coptic families have returned to their hometown in Beni Suef governorate Tuesday after being forced to leave due to a sectarian violence, Youm7 reported.
In May 2013, Mansour Shendy, a Coptic resident at Kafr Darwish village, 100 kilometers south of Cairo, has allegedly posted a “derogatory” picture of Prophet Mohamed on his Facebook account. Although Shendy lived in Jordan at the time, the pictures sparked sectarian tension in his village.
Shendy’s family members were forced to flee their homes in the village and not come back again following a police-led “reconciliation session” with angry Muslims at the village.
Such customary sessions are held among the conflicting parties in the presence of local officials and Muslim and Christian clerics to conclude“reconciliation.” The sessions are held between families as well because they, rather than individuals, bear responsibility of any action of a family member.
“I feel that life is back again, I am also happy after being well received by the village’s Muslim residents,” Shendey’s father told Youm 7 Tuesday.
According to a 2012 report issued by the Egyptian State Information Service (SIS,) Copts (Egyptian Christians) represent 10 percent of the country’s population.
“There are no differences between Muslims and Christians in the village where I was raised. My mother and father are buried in its soil,” Shendey’s father said.
However, the head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization (EUHRO), Nagiub Gebraeil, told CNN Arabic Monday that “at least 18 Christians have been forced to leave their homes, as four houses and farms owned by Christians were set on fire.”
He added that “Although the village mayor held reconciliation sessions with both Christian and Muslim families, tensions continued over the last week. I believe that some ultra-conservative Salafis and other Muslim brotherhood members were instrumental in triggering sectarian strife in the village.”
However, Fawzy Daniel, Shendy’s neighbor has denied any violence against Copts in the village.
“All the news on Coptic resident’s houses being set on fire are lies and rumors,” he said.
“What really happened is that unknown assailants have set agricultural waste on fire,” he added.