Over the past week, churches and other Christian organisations across Egypt have been attacked, vandalised and in some cases completely burnt down.
The violence, which has left several people dead and communities in ruins, erupted after the raids by Egyptian security forces on Islamist camps in Cairo.
During the August 14 raids in Rabaa al-Adawiya square, police shot and killed hundreds of protesters and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Mursi. The Muslim Brotherhood has reportedly framed this bloodshed as part of a religious war against Islam incited by Egypt’s Christians.
The Brotherhood denies involvement in the attacks but some people have cited a speech given by Islamic cleric Safwat Hegazy at a Brotherhood rally as a trigger of the violence. Hegazy is alleged to have said that “most anti-Mursi protesters are Christians”.
According to Reuters, he threatened the Church if it backed opponents of ousted president Mursi, prompting chants from the crowd of: “With our blood and souls, we will sacrifice for you, Islam.”
Human rights group Human Rights Watch has released a video documenting the damage to churches, shops, schools and even an orphanage.
Christian’s make up 10% of Egypt’s 85 million people and have lived alongside the majority Sunni Muslim population for centuries. Over that time occasional violence has surfaced but the most recent attacks are the worst in years.
According to Human Rights Watch the victims were refused help from local emergency services. Some emergency responders claimed they were under siege at the time of the attack, others simply said it was not their job.
Members of the Christian community have said some people were simply too scared to come and help. One pharmacist in Mallawi told Reuters: “The situation was awful … There was no response from the police, nothing from the army, and nothing from the fire brigade.”