Egypt

Authorities stop alleged church construction in Minya

Security forces have stopped construction on a building in a village in Minya that was suspected of being turned into a church.

A report filed with the Edwa Police Station accused the official responsible for a Coptic events hall in Bremsha village of starting construction to turn the hall into a church.

Priest Gobrail Malak Gerges, who is in charge of the archdiocese of Maghagha and Edwa, was summoned over this issue and pledged to stop construction until he gets the required permits.

Gerges said a wall was being built to keep children from falling, but pledged to stop construction anyway.

In mid-February, security forces intervened to prevent the breakout of clashes after Muslim youth gathered outside a church in Ismailia village in Minya, which was being reopened following its closure.

Coptic officials in the village had asked for the church to be opened. According to regulations, if a request to open a church is not declined within 30 days, then the church in question may be opened.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of over 80 million. Christians complain of discrimination, including rules they say make it easier to build a mosque than a church.

Clashes sometimes erupt between Copts and Muslims due to land conflicts or disputes over church construction.

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