Throng of 3,000, including Salafists, burn Christian-owned houses, businesses.
CAIRO, Egypt, September 30 (CDN) — A group of hard-line Muslims attacked a church building in Upper Egypt this afternoon, torching the structure and then looting and burning nearby Christian-owned homes and businesses.
The tension in Elmarenab started the last week of August, when Muslim extremists, many of them thought to be members of the Salafi movement, which patterns its belief and practices on the first three generations of Muslims, voiced anger over renovations taking place at the church and anything perceived as a Christian symbol that could be seen from the outside.
During the dispute, the Muslim group claimed that the renovations were illegal because the building in question wasn’t actually a church, but a hospitality building – a claim cast into doubt as the original building on the site had existed as a church for roughly 100 years, and the parish received permission by the Aswan governor in 2010 to rebuild it as a church.
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