First Published: 2012-09-28

 

Anti-Islam film aftermath: Christians flee Egypt town

 

Several Christian families have fled their homes in Sinai peninsula after receiving death threats from suspected Islamist militants.

 

Middle East Online

CAIRO - Several Christian families have fled their homes in Egypt's Sinai peninsula after receiving death threats from suspected Islamist militants, officials and residents said on Friday.

Last week, flyers began circulating in the town of Rafah on the Gaza Strip border demanding that its tiny Coptic population move out, residents said.

Officials at the local church informed the authorities of the threats, but no action was taken, they added.

Days later, a shop belonging to one of the families was fired on with automatic rifles, witnesses said.

The events prompted the families to leave Rafah but there were conflicting accounts over whether they had done so voluntarily or been evicted.

"The families have left Rafah and gone to El-Arish," one official said on condition of anonymity.

Another official denied that any Coptic families had left at all.

Representatives of the families, many of whom hold government jobs as well private businesses, sat down with the governor of North Sinai earlier this week and asked to be transferred to the nearby town of Al-Arish, the official said.

The events come amid heightened sectarian tensions in the country, particularly in the lawless Sinai peninsula where the armed forces launched an unprecedented campaign in August to root out Islamic militants.

Father Mikhail Antoine of El-Arish church said "the families moved voluntarily because they feared for their lives after the threats."

He said the Coptic population of North Sinai numbered 5,000 to 6,000, adding that around seven Coptic families had been living in Rafah before the move.

Copts have been nervous since Islamists came to power following an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.

They have also been fearing the backlash from an anti-Islam film apparently produced by a Copt in the United States that sparked violent protests worldwide, and that they believe will lead to further persecution at home.

Egypt's Christians, who make up six to 10 percent of the country's population of 82 million, have regularly complained of discrimination and marginalisation. They have also been the target of numerous sectarian attacks.

 

Kerry in Paris for talks on long-term Gaza truce

‘Islamic State’ beheads Syrian soldiers in Raqa

Armed men snatch Head of Baghdad Provincial Council

Two rival Islamic states in Syria power struggle

Ordeal of ‘apostasy’ woman ends with departure from Sudan

Hezbollah chief speaks out on Gaza

Crete protest against Syria chemicals destruction in Mediterranean

74 killed in IS assault on Syria regime territory

Iran confirms arrest of Washington Post correspondent

Somali 'Shebab commanders' killed in AU offensive

Paris: survivors of Air Algerie jet crash 'unlikely'

Jordan shots down drone near Syria border

Gaza civilian toll spiralling to above 800

UN urges Europe to tackle Mediterranean migrant crisis

From Israel with ‘virus’: Death threat letter reaches Palestinian mission in France

Another bloody day as Israel targets civilians in UN-run school

‘Islamic State’ launches multiple attacks on Syria army

Attack on Egypt army post bears fingerprints of foreign intelligence

Harassment of Christians escalates in Islamist-run Sudan

Air Algerie plane goes missing over Mali

Algeria plane with many French nationals on board vanishes over Mali

Iraqi protesters denounce treatment of minority Christians

Iraq elects Kurdish politician as federal president

Russia begins supplying military equipment to Iraq

Air Algerie plane contact lost over west Africa

South Sudan warring sides to resume peace talks

Baghdad closer to breaking political limbo

Spectacular attack on Iraq prisoner convoy

Gaza death toll passes 700 mark

Mladenov pleads for UN help to end IS 'atrocities' in Iraq

Hamas hails suspension of Israel flights as 'great victory'

Lebanon army records first case of desertion to join Syria Nusra Front

Iraq gunmen kill female former candidate for parliament

Kerry cites ‘some steps forward’ in Gaza truce efforts

Turkey hunts for nine intelligence officers in wire-tapping probe

Suspension of hostilities in Gaza to allow medical assistance

Assassination of famed Somali musician and lawmaker

Sisi defends Egypt in trying to broker Gaza truce

Syria welcomes nomination of Staffan de Mistura as new UN envoy

Iraq lawmakers stall presidential election as violence yields grim crop of bodies

Yemen president calls for unity

Etihad helps Jet Airways return to profit

Is Tunisia returning to old regime censorship?

Qatar emir in unannounced visit to Saudi

HRW: Iraq air strikes wreaking awful toll on civilians