worldwatchmonitor.org - Copts in the village of Ezbat Al-Forn, in the Minya governorate, have their church back after it was forced to close “for security reasons” last month, and celebrated this with a mass on Sunday morning (10 September) – the same day that another village church reopened elsewhere in Minya.
The first mass at the reopened Saint Mary and St Michael Coptic Orthodox church, which meets in a private home owned by the Diocese, was led by Fr Daniel Babawy with Minya police forces present to provide security for fear of reprisals from the Muslim community, as reported by Coptic news site Watani. In fact, some Muslims visited the Copts to congratulate them at the reopening of their church.
The community of 400 Coptic Christians in Ezbat Al-Forn were stopped from holding Sunday mass and banned from the premises by police on Sunday 20 August.
Police said the Copts, who were meeting in a private home, lacked a permit to use the home to practise religious rites, but the official police report shows that the decision was taken following complaints by local Muslims, after which World Watch Monitor understands the police shut the church for the Copts’ protection.
On 21 August, following the closure of their church, the Copts processed peacefully through the village streets to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.