The Islamic supporters of Egypt’s ousted president who have been battling the military have turned their rage on members of the country’s Coptic Christian minority, attacking churches, monasteries, schools, Christian owned shops as well as individuals.
Churches across the country sustained attacks for a second straight day today, according to rights groups, state media and Egyptian security forces. Individual Copts say they fear reprisal attacks, with one video purportedly showing supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi beating a Coptic taxi driver to death in Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city.
The leader of country’s Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, had previously expressed his support for the military coup that unseated the country’s first Islamist president last month. Coptic Christians widely supported Morsi’s opponent in presidential elections last year. Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people.
Forty churches were burned across Egypt Wednesday, according to local nongovernmental organizations and the Coptic Church’s youth group. The Egyptian military pledged to reconstruct and restore all the burned churches, state media reported.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a human rights group based in Cairo, documented additional attacks against Coptic monasteries, schools and shops, according to the group’s representative Ishaq Ibrahim, The Associated Press reported.
The attacks on Coptic churches continued today, officials and monitor said.
In a speech today, President Obama condemned the attacks.
“We call on those who are protesting to do so peacefully and condemn the attacks that we’ve seen by protesters, including on churches,” Obama said during a break in his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
A mob set fire to and destroyed one Seventh-day Adventist church in Assiut, 200 miles from Cairo, a pastor in Cairo told ABC News.
Llewellyn R. Edwards, the president and pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Egypt and Sudan, in the Egyptian capital, said an Evangelical church and an Orthodox church had also been attacked.
“It appears to me that some extremists of the Muslim Brotherhood are seeking to make Christian churches and institutions a scapegoat for their anger,” Edwards said.
Adam Makary and Darren Reynolds contributed reporting.