Egypt: Life Sentences for Muslim Mob for Burning Down Christian Church

Burnt Church

A court in Egypt recently handed down life sentences to a mob of 71 Muslims who had burned down a Christian church in the village of Kafr Hakim in Giza province in 2013. According to the media, the Muslim mob had been rooting for Egypt to become an Islamic state, as they torched and looted Virgin Mary Church after protesting against the current government.

Since the defeat of former President Mohammed Morsi, Christians across Egypt have been attacked frequently, a phenomenon that led to the Muslim Brotherhood being outlawed in the country. Media reports suggest 52 of the 73 accused were tried in absentia, with 21 of them already serving jail terms. Two minors, who were involved in the attack, were handed down an additional 10 years in prison and fined as much as $1,300. The verdict however can be appealed.

Hany El-Sayed, lawyer for some of the defendants, said, “There is no proof against the defendants... Even the church's priest said he didn't see any of the defendants after the incident.”

Morsi himself was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison for torturing Christians and carrying out unlawful arrests during his reign. This is the first verdict that has been pronounced against Morsi, since he was removed from power and it is only one of the many trials that he is currently facing. Morsi may have faced the death penalty for a more serious charge of having incited the killing of protesters but that is one allegation that he has been cleared of by the court.

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a retired Field Marshall, won the presidential election in 2014 and he has been hailed by most Christians for protecting them and aiding in ending the violence that has plagued the nation since 2013.

“Many Christians, and even Muslims, think that Sisi saved them from the Islamic groups and he is the hero and savior that we are all waiting for. In Egypt you have to choose from two choices: Military or Islamist. So, if I am Christian, for sure I'll choose the military even if I don't like them,” said Mahmoud Farouk, executive director of the Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies.

There has been a large-scale clampdown on members of the Muslim Brotherhood after Sisi came to power and the group has been compelled to go underground since. Thousands of Egyptians have been jailed for associating themselves with the religious group, with some of them receiving death sentences even for participating in the 2013 unrest that caused significant bloodshed.

Photo Credits: The Shoebat Foundation

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