Three men in a car sprayed automatic gunfire into a crowd of churchgoers in southern Egyptian as they left a midnight Mass for Coptic Christmas, killing at least seven people in a drive-by shooting, the church bishop and security officials said.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry said the attack Wednesday just before midnight was suspected as retaliation for the November rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man in the same town. The statement said witnesses have identified the lead attacker.
Prior reporting described the accusation of rape as a rumor. Nonetheless, riots ensued.
The attack took place in the town of Nag Hamadi in Qena province, about 40 miles from the famous ancient ruins of Luxor. A local security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed that seven were dead and three seriously wounded.
Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hamadi Diocese told The Associated Press six male churchgoers and one security guard were killed. He said he had left St. John’s church just minutes before the attack.
“A driving car swerved near me, so I took the back door. By the time I shook hands with someone at the gate, I heard the mayhem, lots of machine gun shots,” he said in a telephone interview. He said he saw five bodies lying on the ground when he first looked at the site of the shooting, about 600 yards where he was.
The bishop said he was concerned about violence on the eve of Coptic Christmas, which falls on Thursday, because of previous threats following the rape of the 12-year-old girl in November.
He got a message on his mobile phone saying: “It is your turn.”
“I did nothing with it. My faithful were also receiving threats in the streets, some shouting at them: ‘We will not let you have festivities,”‘ he said.
Because of the threats, he said he ended his Christmas Mass one hour early.
He said Muslim residents of Nag Hamadi and neighboring villages rioted for five days in November and torched and damaged Christian properties in the area after the rape.
“For days, I had expected something to happen on Christmas day,” he said. The bishop said police have now asked him to stay at home for fear of further violence. […]
Clashes between Muslims and Christians are not uncommon in southern Egypt and in recent years have begun seeping into the capital. An Amnesty International report said sectarian attacks on the Coptic Christian community, comprising between 6 million and 8 million people in Egypt, increased in the year 2008. Sporadic clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims left eight people dead.
Vendetta killing is also common among southern Egyptians, and is usually over land or family disputes.
The bishop said he had an idea of who the attackers were, calling them “Muslim radicals.”
“It is all religious now. This is a religious war about how they can finish off the Christians in Egypt,” he said.
I add this comment by a Jihadwatch reader called Hugh
[start comment from Hugh here]
The Copts are the unswerving, the descendants of the original Egyptians who did not, when the Arabs came, give up and accept Islam. Enduring the humiliation, degradation, and permanent physical insecurity of the dhimmi status, many Copts not unsurprisingly fell away, gave up, accepted Islam, took Arab names and thought of themselves no longer as Copts but as Arabs. They forgot their own past. But that was not enough for some Muslims, and there were episodes of mass forced conversions intermittently over the past thousand years.
How many of those Muslims now persecuting and even murdering Copts ever dare to realize that their own ancestors may have been Copts, and try to imagine the horrific circumstances which caused them to become Muslim? How many Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Indian Muslims do the same, to deploy whatever imaginative sympathy they have back in time, and to think of what were surely their Hindu (or possibly Buddhist or Jain) ancestors, and the circumstances under which they converted to Islam, and all that followed from that conversion, including the stunting, over the centuries, of moral and mental growth?
Who, among those who think of themselves as Arabs and make life difficult for the Berbers of the Kabyle, in Algeria, or elsewhere in North Africa, realize how few Arabs really came to North Africa, and how many of today’s Arabs are the descendants of Berbers, the very people now suffering from cultural and linguistic imperialism from the Arabs, because Islam is a natural vehicle for Arab supremacism, everywhere?
When will those whose ancestors were forced to become Muslim start to think back, start to wonder about it, as the film director Emir Kusturica did, and then decided, though formally born a Muslim, it was all nonsense, and he understood perfectly the conditions that caused his ancestors to become Muslim, and he was no longer going to continue the farce, and in a ceremony at a Serbian cathedral, this “Muslim” director had himself baptised?
There’s no need to worry about whether your children will someday listen to the siren-song of the violent Jihadists, or will be permanently looked at askance, with justified suspicion, all over the Western world — from here on out. There is no need to condemn your children to what I mention above, the moral and mental stunting of growth that the Total Belief-System of Islam guarantees. No, there is a way out. It’s the way chosen by Emir Kusturica, or by others who did not necessarily jettison Islam for some other faith, but at least, by way of that damned “identity” that everyone these days seems to think is so necessary to possess and give a name to, they choose another of their “multiple identities” (to borrow Bernard Lewis’s phrase) — Berber, Kurd, Turk, Perisan, Coptic Egyptian, Christian, Jew, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist — just with a little effective use of a mental time-machine.
It can be done. It makes sense.