05/27/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a Muslim mob looted and torched seven Christian homes in Al-Karam, Egypt on May 20, after rumors of an extramarital affair between a Christian man, Ashraf Malak, and Muslim woman spread. The mob, reportedly composed of approximately 300 men, also attacked the elderly mother of the Christian man as local police took two hours to respond to the violence.
“Some angry Muslim men attacked Ashraf’s home, and looted many of its contents,” Ashraf’s neighbor told ICC.
“These clashes resulted in the burning of Ashraf’s home, his storage, and another three homes belonging to his relatives and three homes belonging to Muslims,” another Christian resident of Al-Karam told ICC.
“They [also] attacked Ashraf’s mother,” Ashraf’s neighbor said. “They stripped all her clothes off in the front of her home and they then set Ashraf’s home on fire.”
After being stripped down by the mob, Ashraf’s elderly mother was then paraded through the streets of the village. The violence began around 8:00 p.m. and, according to a local Christian leader, two hours elapsed before the police responded. This delayed response took place in spite of the fact that the authorities had been warned the day before of the impending violence.
While more reports of this incident are emerging, local authorities are underplaying the scope of the clashes. Local Minya governor, Tarek Nasser, even denied the claims that Ashraf’s mother was stripped down, despite numerous testimonies saying otherwise.
Christians make up approximately 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people and are often targets of persecution and harassment by the Muslim majority. Sectarian violence like this is common in Egypt when extramarital affairs between Muslims and Christians are uncovered. For many, affairs between Muslims and Christians are strictly forbidden.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, said, “We are heartbroken for the Christian community in Al-Karam and the horrors that the victims of this violence have endured. The police and government authorities in Minya should have made better efforts to protect the Christians in Al-Karam. Such a delayed response to violence that they reportedly knew about beforehand only increases the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of violence against Egypt’s Christian community. These perpetrators cannot and should not go unpunished. We call on the Egyptian authorities to ensure that justice is served in this instance and that future violence like this is curtailed.”