By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Aug. 25 2008 05:25 PM EDT
An Egyptian police reportedly struck three women while trying to stop them from repairing the only church in the area, a human rights group said.
The three Coptic Christian women were taking sand into the Archangel Michael Church in the village of Deshasha, south of Cairo, to fix the church’s cracked floor when the policeman assigned to guard the church hit them, reported the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) last week.
“The worrying rise in sectarian tension we've seen in Deshasha is a direct result of violations committed by the police,” said EIPR director Hossam Bahgat, in a statement. “This incident must be investigated and those responsible held accountable.”
According to the women (who requested to remain anonymous), the policeman refused to allow the women to take the sand into the church, telling them “You won’t bring one grain of sand into the church but over my dead body.”
After the Aug. 17 incident, rumors spread that the Copts had locked the policeman inside the church, beat him, and tore his clothes. As a result, several Copts – both men and women – said they were threatened by local Muslims and were afraid to leave their homes.
Moreover, six Coptic youths were arrested by police on Aug. 17 and 18 to be interrogated on charges of assaulting a public servant and using violence to prevent him from doing his duty. They were later released after questioning