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.

 

US-backed forces capture key Syria oil field

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign