Gunmen in Egypt spray bullets at a church near Cairo, and a judge attempts to destroy a church in Rashid

Three gunmen opened fire on a church near Egypt’s Giza pyramids, near Cairo, on Thursday (12 November) before fleeing the scene – the latest in a string of attacks against Egypt’s churches. In the city of Rashid, in Egypt’s Beheira governorate, a retired Muslim judge is attempting to destroy a church building.

Judge Mohamed Mostafa Kamel Tirana and his two sons, who are also judges, claim that they purchased the church building in 1990 from the former leader of the church in Rashid and say that it was their family’s ancestral home. He registered the purchase of the building in 2008, 18 years after the alleged purchase. They say that the building has only recently been used as a church, according to International Christian Concern.

The lawyer acting for the church leaders, however, says the building has been registered as a church since 1948 in the city’s real estate authority, the Property Taxes office and the 1946 Cadastral map. “His purpose of taking over the church is demolishing its building and rebuild[ing] big shopping malls on its land,” said church leader Luka Asaad Awad.

Trouble began for the church in 2008 when the building was re-opened for prayer after being unused for some time. Mina Adel, a church member, remembers that first attack. “On September 19, 2008, at dawn the judge and his two sons hired bulldozers and a group of thugs to demolish the church and stormed the church … They demolished the fence of the church, attacked the Christian watchman who was guarding the church [by] beating him, and demolished parts of the church building.”

In October 2012, the judge and his two sons again attempted to demolish the church, but the police refused to take action against them because of their prominent positions as judges, said church leader Luka Asaad Awad.

Finally, on 2 September this year, the judge managed to open a hole in the wall of a shop beside the church to get inside the church and destroy the building from inside. “We beg President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi to intervene and protect the church and stop the demolition of it,” said the church leader.

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