The Minya Security Directorate announced seven new defendants in the incidents of sectarian strife that took place at the end of May in a Minya village.
Accusations were made against family members of a Muslim man who allegedly attacked the house of a Coptic civilian in the village of Al-Karam.
The Ministry of Interior said on Monday that investigations from the Minya Security Directorate showed that Nazir Abdel Hafez divorced his wife after he suspected that she was having an affair with a Coptic man named Daniel Abdu, driving Abdel Hafez, his family, and his friends to attack the latter as well as houses of other Copts.
The attackers assaulted Soaad Thabet, a 70-year-old woman, who was forced out of her home by the angry mob, dragged onto the street, stripped of her clothes, and beaten, according to the investigations.
The results of the preliminary investigations contradict the defence lawyer’s argument, which denies that the attackers removed Thabet’s clothes. Lawyer Ismail Sayed previously told local news that the accusations were inspired by public pressure.
The prosecution is yet to release arrest warrants for the seven new defendants, which would bring the number of suspects in the case to 31.
Although officials in Egypt, including President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, instructed respective authorities to hold accountable those who are responsible for the sectarian strife, religious officials are still pushing to solve the incident in an “unofficial way”.
“The violence committed against this Egyptian woman is not acceptable. I ask her to not be angry about all that has happened as every single perpetrator will be held accountable,” Al-Sisi said, stressing that he will not allow the recurrence of such an incident again in Egypt.
However, one day after the incident went viral, the state-sponsored Al-Azhar institution sent a 40-man delegation to Minya to contain the situation, while the Ministry of Religious Endowments said that more than 20 preachers will be sent to the governorate to organise dialogue between the conflicting sides. Al-Azhar also said that the matter should not be used politically to increase religious strife.