Amnesty International released a report on Tuesday excoriating Egyptian security forces for leaving a group of Coptic Christians to die at the hands of a massive and frenzied mob earlier this month.
According to the report, six Egyptian Christians were left to protect themselves during an 18-hour attack on July 5th in a village near Luxor. Four were eventually killed, and one was hospitalized.
The violence began after a Muslim man was found dead in the area, and his family blamed the death on the local Christians. Around 3 a.m., the group said, a mob "armed with metal bars, knives, tree branches and hammers" descended on the town of about 275 families, and by noon the next day more than 100 homes had been "looted or torched."
In this Sunday, July 7, 2013 photo, relatives of Christians killed near Luxor, Egypt, pray during their funeral after two days of violence that followed the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. (Photo: AP)
For hours, residents and religious leaders called police to no avail.
"The attack went on for 18 hours, and there was not a door on which I did not knock: police, army, local leaders, the Central Security Forces, the Governorate. Nothing was done," recalled Father Barsilious, a local priest.
"They did not just kill four Christians in cold blood, they killed the spirit of love and co-existence," he said.
Security officials eventually agreed to help the women and children escape during the worst of the violence, but seemingly gave into the demands of the mob that the six men be left behind.
Egyptian riot police stand in a line to prevent voters from approaching a polling station in the rural town of Kafr Duwar during the second parliamentary electoral run-offs 26 November 2005. (AFP/Getty File Photo)
“I kissed the police officer’s hands and legs and begged him to protect my two sons and take them out," one woman said. "He completely ignored me and said he would only take women and children…. I buried my two sons in one day."
Amnesty International spoke with witnesses of the attack, and report that at least 18 men have been detained on charges of murder, attempted murder, "thuggery" and more.
There has always been tension between Egypt's Muslim and Christian populations, but the violence has grown markedly worse since the so-called "Arab Spring" led to Islamists gaining control of the government. Now, with the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, tensions are escalating yet again as the Brotherhood tries to blame Christians for their defeat.
Also this month, the body of a Christian merchant was found decapitated in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Leader of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II (L) and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb (R) give a joint press conference after a meeting to discuss the current interfaith situation at the Egyptian Coptic Cathedral in Cairo's Abbassiya neighbourhood on April 26, 2013, following clashes between Christians and Muslims earlier in the month. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
“It is outrageous that this attack was left to escalate unhindered in this way. Amnesty International has documented a series of cases in the past where Egypt’s security forces used unnecessary force or live fire during demonstrations, yet in this case they held back even though people’s lives were threatened,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, commented.
The group is demanding a "thorough, impartial and independent investigation" into the "grossly inadequate response" of Egyptian security forces.
(H/T: Jihad Watch)