New York, NY, November 16, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today denounced the torching of at least 10 houses belonging to Coptic Christians in southern Egypt and called on Egyptian government officials to vigorously prosecute the perpetrators and increase protection for Copts.
Muslims reportedly burned down Coptic homes in al-Nawahid, a village in Qena Province, over rumors that a Christian resident had an affair with a Muslim girl. The village is located about 290 miles south of Cairo.
"We denounce this heinous attack on the Coptic Christian community and call on the Egyptian government to vigorously prosecute the perpetrators," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Egypt needs to send a clear message to the world that it intends to fully protect freedom of religion and its religious minorities against religious terrorism."
The arson was the latest in an escalating series of attacks on Coptic Christians, a minority religion in Egypt making up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 80 million. Egyptian security officials said that several people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.
Attacks on Copts have been increasing in recent years as government leaders struggle with the rise in religion-based violence.
Last year in Qena, a Coptic man was accused of kidnapping and raping a 12-year-old Muslim girl. The alleged assault led to widespread protests by the Muslim community and increased tensions between the two religious groups, which culminated in the murder of six Copts and one Muslim security guard at a church on January 6.