Christian churches in Egypt are being burned to the ground by extremists who are furious about the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi and the deadly response by security forces to subsequent protests.
Protestors on Wednesday tossed firebombs at Mar Gergiss church in the city of Sohag, which has a large community of Coptic Christians, Fox News reported.
The church was destroyed.
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Security officials say two other churches in El-Menia province were damaged by fire on Wednesday. CNN reported
that dozens of Christian churches, homes and businesses across the country have been targeted by violence after security forces fired on Morsi supporters in Cairo protest camps on Wednesday.
Blame has been centered on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Social networking sites were abuzz with commentary.
“I guess that military aid to Egypt is 2 have them sit idle as Coptic Christians are killed & their churches get burned down,” tweeted @BachWagnerinc.
Meanwhile, @RomelBrown tweeted: “Egyptian Muslims are not terrorists they r guarding churches in Egypt! We are all facing war against terrorism.”
Ishak Ibrahim, with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, told CNN that he has confirmed attacks on at least 30 churches so far. That number excludes church-affiliated schools and cultural centers that have been targeted.
Attacks on Coptic Christians have been escalating, and the church’s leader in Egypt, Pope Tawadros II, has suspended weekly public events for fear of attacks.
Egyptian security officials say Christians are not the only ones being targeted in the ongoing violence, and some say Islamic groups are unfairly being blamed for the attacks. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States is deeply concerned by the violence.
“We will continue speaking out against this and continue talking to all parties and all sides about renouncing this violence, about moving forward with a democratic process," she said, according to CNN.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom, Andrew Bennett, released a statement calling for calm.
“We are concerned by recent attacks on religious institutions in Egypt, in particular the unconscionable attacks on Coptic Orthodox, and Anglican churches, and on Baptist and Franciscan institutions,” the statement read.
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