Coptic Assembly of America, Free Copts and The Katiba Atibiya (Theban Legion) Statement in reference to the Attacks on Abu Fana Monastery (Ava Viny) in Mallawi
On Saturday evening the 23rd of the Coptic month Beshens, also known as the 31st of May, 2008, an attack with automatic weapons was carried against unarmed monks of Abu Fana Monastery, by the village of Mallawi, Minya Governorate. The attack lasted until early the following day (Sunday) and resulted in four monks injured with bullet wounds. The attack also resulted in the kidnapping of three other monks, who were stripped of their clothes, tortured, whipped and beaten; and threatened with death after the kidnappers tried to forcibly them to convert to Islam by asking them to give the confession of Islam. The lack of intervention by the governor of Minya and the security forces to return the kidnapped monks, which occured only after the insistence of sincerely respected Bishop Demetrius (Chairman of the Monastery) the Archbishop of Mallawi, Ansena and Ashmonien. Bishop Demetrius insisted he would not leave the Governor’s office until after their return, so what a surprise it was when the abducted monks returned after less than half an hour (aka dawn Sunday morning)! The mysterious disappearance of Ibrahim Taqi Riyad, the brother of the monk Father Mina, is still unsolved.
These events resulted in the violation of the sanctity of the monastery: The monastery’s churches, holy books, and monks cells were burnt; the walls which determine the monastery’s ownership were demolished, the monastery’s farms were destroyed, money and a tractor were stolen from the monastery, another tractor was vandalized, and the monastery’s computer and building materials were also seiezed.
The slow response of the security forces, as they arrived four hours after the beginning of the events despite their presence at a check point in the village of Hor, at a distance of 2 kilometers from the monastery; and the refusal of the ambulance service to come from any of the hospitals in Mallawi or Minya; shows that the state no longer has the authority of dignity on the terrorist groups, gangs, Bedouins, and other residents of the deserts who are the neighbors of the Coptic monasteries. This also shows that the state has lost its ability to protect its citizens, as they were not able to prevent this attack, which is the second of its kind in the same place within six months, and the fourth in two years!
Also, the invocation of lies and the loss of credibility - as is customary in all sectarian incidents – is a method that can no longer persuade the public opinion. The officials who adopt these lies and fortify them prevent any damage or any accusations of negligence that can pursued upon them.
In the combination of all these factors, it is confirmed that Egypt is entering a more advanced stage of oppression of the Copts, in humiliating them through the desecration of their sanctuaries and in attacking their monks.
It is clear in the appeasement of the gangs, and in the friendly soothing of them in front of everyone, a friendship has grown between the Governorate management and the security forces from one side, and between those Bedouin gangs on the other side. This means that the security forces have lost their authority, and they have ravaged the dignity of law. This is especially evident after the proposal of Mr. Major General Ahmed Dia Eldin (the Governor of Minya) to leaders of the monastery that the monks pay royalties to the nomadic Arabs in order to avoid their evil. This is despite the monastery’s multiple previous concessions on some of its lands under pressure by the officials in signing sale contracts for parts owned by the monastery, which were appended by punitive terms to anyone in case of assault of the ownership by the other, as conserved with signatures and seals and witness testimony! This nullifies the sincerity of statements by the governor of Minya, who stated in disregard that the incident was just an ordinary quarrel on a peace of state-owned land and, a dispute between two neighbors, the monks and the nomadic Arabs.
These irresponsible statements, which raised the rancor of all, were consistently repeated by him in order to keep the lie of fire exchange between the two parties (the nomadic Arab and monks), which in one Muslim dead. However, at this time, none of the church leaders have seen this man’s body, nor have they seen a forensic medical report on his cause of death, or even a simple death certificate in his name. This puzzle suggests the complicity of the Governorate and security authorities with those gangs.
In addition, Major General Mohamed Nur Eddin - Director of security of Minya – made statements to the media accusing some of the monks with charges of inciting Coptic citizens to clash with other families, therefore raising public opinion against the Copts.
Isn’t it about time that the security authorities ensure the necessary protection of the monastery, which begins by arresting the thugs who have attacked the monastery!?!??!! Everyone knows the names of these thugs. Their arrest would ensure the necessary protection to the monastery, especially since it is recorded by the Artifacts Association.
Isn’t about time for officials to help maintain the security of the monastery by completing the wall which it was authorized to build, and not to hinder this process, as was happened from time to time?!!!
Our love for Egypt makes us protect it from turning into a jungle where the strong is fed on the weak, and the forces of oppression coordinate in defiance of international covenants and conventions on Human Rights, which Egypt had the honor to sign like a major civilized nation.
Hence, the Coptic Assembly of America, Free Copts and The Katiba Atibiya (Theban Legion), in solidarity, condemn this terrible and brutal attack. This attack calls to the mind the era of barbaric invasions. In solidarity, we also call on the church leadership not to accept any concessions or reconciliation attempts until after these criminals face a trial in such a way that returns dignity to the law. We also assert that the acceptable the right of monks to ensure security is through the rapid completion of the fence, the recovering of the stolen items, and through compensations paid by the attackers for the damages. We also call for the solution to mysterious disappearance of Ibrahim Taqi Riyad, who is still abducted.
In a correctional move in order to secure that such events do not occur again in that region, we ask for the dismissal of both the Governor of Minya and the Director of Minya’s security.
We also ask for the punishment of all the laggards who failed to stop this massacre. We warn of the consequences of unwise dealings with this matter, if we really want to see the security of Egypt, or this will not be the last incident at Abu Fana Monastery.