After Friday prayers, a mob of several thousand Muslims from the village of Elmarinab in Edfu, Aswan province, demolished and torched St. George's church, which was being renovated. The mob demolished the dome, walls and columns, then went to the church depot where the lumber to be used for construction was stored and torched it. The fire lasted 2 hours but the attack continued until 7 PM.The only English-language Egyptian media to cover the incident was Bikya Masr:
In an interview on Coptic TV channel, Father Salib of St. George's Church said "the Imam of one of the village mosques called on the people to take matter in their own hands, he added. Other witnesses named the Imam as Sheikh Sabry.
According to eyewitnesses the Muslims also torched a large depot of electrical goods owned by a Copt, a supermarket and four Coptic homes. Muslims prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. Security forces, which were present, "stood there watching," said Mr.Michael Ramzy, a social worker at the church.
Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human rights Organizations send an urgent message to field Marchall Tantawi to save the Copts in Egypt. "The Copts, their lives and their churches are in danger," he said.
Attorney Mamdouh Nakhla, head of Al-Kalema human rights organization condemned Muslims taking the law in their own hands. He said "if the Egyptian Government is unable to protect its citizens, then the civilized international society should step in immediately to stop this human tragedy."
Aswan’s governor denied the burning of a church in Edfu, in southern Egypt, on Friday and said there was no attack on the church since there is no church “but a Christian guest house,” adding that the situation has calmed and the clashes stopped.That burning smell in the air? That's the fragrance of Arab Spring!
Governor Mostafa el-Said told Channel One, Egypt’s national TV channel, late on Friday that reports stating violence against a church in the city were “wrong.”
Eyewitnesses, however, have reported that a number of Muslim men surrounded church and set fire to parts of it, then moved to Coptic houses in the area, where they set fire to buildings and vandalized a grocery store.
They added that violence continued into the night, with the men using gas containers to set a residential home on fire, while another reported that one of the Muslims said “we don’t want Copts in our town.”
Eyewitnesses have confirmed that some men tried to stop the fire trucks from reaching the burning buildings, which contributed to financial damages for the city.
El-Said said that the clashes erupted after construction was taking place at the guest house with “the intention of turning it into a church which provoked the Muslims.”
He added that the Copts had permission to build on the guest house for 9 meters only, but they exceeded that and increased the building by 13 meters.
He said the Muslims “got angry” and the Copts admitted to the wrongdoing and promised to remove the extra floors, but there was a delay in the removal “which made a local Islamic clerk mobilize young men and head there to remove it themselves.”