A Muslim mob destroyed seven Christian homes and dragged an elderly woman through the streets in a province south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, after rumors spread that a Christian man had an affair with a Muslim woman.
According to a statement by the local Orthodox Coptic church on Wednesday, during the attack last Friday, the elderly mother of the Christian man, who had fled the village in Minya province, was beaten and insulted by the mob before being publicly stripped of her clothes. She was then paraded naked on the streets while the Muslim mob chanted Allahu Akbar, or "God is great."
The statement was signed by Anba Makarios, Minya's top Christian cleric, who on Wednesday night told a talks show host on the private Dream TV network that the woman only reported the incident to the police five days later because she found it too difficult to "swallow the humiliation" she suffered.
Earlier this week, Aswat Masriya reported that two people were injured and seven homes torched by the Muslim mob, who first burned the house of the Coptic Christian man allegedly involved with the Muslim woman.
Anba Makarios revealed that the police arrived at the scene of Friday's violence nearly two hours after the attack began and arrested six people. The day before the attack, the family of the Christian man had notified the police of threats against them by Muslim villagers.
"No one did anything and the police took no pre-emptive or security measures in anticipation of the attacks," the cleric said in another TV interview Wednesday night. "We are not living in a jungle or a tribal society. It's incorrect for anyone to declare himself judge, police and ruler."
Makarios also told talk show host Moussa of Sada that the late arrival of the police gave the attackers "ample time" to destroy the Christian homes and humiliate the elderly woman.
He added that because the police allow Muslims to target Christians with no repercussions, the village crisis will most likely be handled through a government-sponsored meeting of the two sides in which the Christians will be forced to accept "humiliating" conditions for reconciliation.
If the case were different, and a Muslim man was having an affair with a Christian woman, the reaction would have hardly been so violent, he added.
"It is a disgrace for honest men to remain silent while accepting, seeing or hearing this," Makarios said.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of more than 90 million people, have long complained of discrimination in the predominantly Muslim country. The country is 22nd on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.
"The large Coptic minority, while facing important difficulties, has been tolerated because of its historical presence and its demographic size," reads the report. "In recent years this has changed, however, causing historical Christian communities to be targeted as well."