HRW: Copts have faced assault since Morsy’s ouster

Copts have faced several incidents of assault since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsy by the Armed Forces earlier this month, US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a report issued Tuesday.

The organization urged authorities in Egypt to launch an urgent investigation into the incidents and to hold the perpetrators accountable. It also demanded that they find out whether the police were able to intervene to stop the assaults.

The report highlighted some examples of assaults on Copts. It noted that since Morsy’s ouster on July 3, at least six separate attacks on Christians have taken place in governorates across Egypt, including in Luxor, Marsa Matrouh, Minya, North Sinai, Port Said, and Qena.

 “In the deadliest incident, on July 5, 2013, local residents brutally beat to death four Christians inside their home as police and a mob of residents surrounded the house, during a day of violence that erupted after a Muslim was found dead in Naga Hassan, a village ten kilometers west of the city of Luxor in southern Egypt. Local residents also wounded three others and destroyed at least 24 Christian-owned properties,” it said.

HRW quoted witnesses as saying that the police did not stop a 17-hour long anti-Christian rampage in the village until after the men had been killed.

“Egyptian security forces should be on high alert to prevent and halt sectarian violence in the current tense and polarized situation,” said Nadim Houry, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Egypt’s religious and political leaders should denounce the dangerous escalation of sectarian attacks.”

Houry urged the Egyptian government to” make ending sectarian violence a priority, or risk letting this deadly problem spiral out of control.”

In another incident cited by the organization, supporters of the ousted president looted and burned St. George’s Coptic Catholic Church and al-Saleh Church in the village of Delga, in Minya. It said the assault resulted in eight Muslims and Christians being injured.