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North Sinai Governor Sayed Harhour asked Copts living near Rafah city in Sinai to wait until Thursday to see if the security situation stabilizes, in the wake of many being forced from their homes due to threats by extremist groups.
Harhour made the request during a meeting in Arish Sunday with Coptic citizens that Bishop Qezman of the local Masaeed Church also attended. During the three-hour meeting, the citizens asked to be allowed to leave Rafah for Arish and to be allowed to stay there for at least six months.
State-run news agency MENA said citizens eventually agreed to stay until Thursday to make sure the situation stabilized again.
About 15 Coptic families had left their homes in Rafah after unknown people put up leaflets ordering them to leave. Later, two armed men riding a motorcycle opened fire on a Coptic-owned shop in Rafah Wednesday, but no one was injured.
On Sunday, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a human rights group, slammed the state’s reaction to what it described as a forcible evacuation of Copts in Rafah last Thursday.
Ishaq Ibrahim, the organization’s representative for freedom of religion, said the incident was another episode in a series of assaults on the lives and properties of Christian citizens.
He said their evacuation was under the state’s sponsorship, adding that the recent incident cannot be handled separately from other events, such as the forced evacuations of Copts in Dahshur and Amreya.