Christians in the villages of Nazlet Abdel Messih and Al-Badraman have demanded additional security following threats against them, claim local sources. The threats came from followers of a local crime boss Ali Abu Hussein, who was killed last week in a battle with a Christian family following Abu Hussein’s attempt to kidnap one of their female members in Nazlet Abdel Messih. Christians have also been threatened in the village of Al-Badraman, where Abu Hussein was from.
Residents claim that men in Abu Hussein’s gang have staged protests against the local Coptic community and distributed leaflets referring to the deceased kingpin a “martyr” and calling on Muslims to retaliate against the village’s Christian families.
In a statement on Saturday, the Justice and Development Organisation accused the Interior Ministry of failing to control Abu Hussein’s operations while he was alive and of ignoring sectarian strife brewing in the area.
“Copts have become easy targets for outlaws and extremists and after the 25 January revolution their lives and property have become prey in the absence or complicity of security services, and a passive position of the presidency, which talks constantly about the suffering of the Palestinians and sends them all support, but ignores the suffering of the Copts as citizens,” read a statement from the Maspero Youth Union (MYU). “The [MYU] confirms that the Copts of Al-Badraman and Nazlet Abdel Messih in Mallawi are on the threshold of a new massacre.”
The MYU called for investigations of the governor and head of security of Minya for negligence in dealing with armed groups that roam free and escalated sectarian tensions under their watch.
A rights group, Copts without Restrictions, released a statement warning of a “disaster” in Mallawi last week, and said Abu Hussein’s men were taking retaliatory measures in the aftermath of his death.
Two members of the Marzouk family and Abu Hussein were killed in clashes last week in the town of Nazlet Abdel Messih in the Minya Governorate. Abu Hussein had developed a notorious reputation in Mallawi for extorting property and money from local residents following last year’s revolution.
The extent of Abu Hussein’s alleged crimes were well known and reported for months, but Egypt’s security forces had failed to react and clamp down on security in the area, which deteriorated following the uprising.
Despite being threatened, Christian families have not left the area, as most have been living in Mallawi for generations and leaving would threaten the assets their families hold in their villages.
Christian families previously fled the northern Sinai town of Rafah when flyers were distributed to their homes and businesses threatening them with violence. The Governor of North Sinai initially reacted to the threats by facilitating the flight. Afterwards Christians returned to Rafah under heavy government security.