Violence broke out across the country after six-week-old protest camps in support of ousted President Morsi were forcefully dispersed by Egypt’s police and army, killing hundreds. While the highest number of causalities was recorded in Cairo, where the sit-ins were largest, on the morning of Aug. 14, a pro-Morsi sit-in was also violently broken up in Minya’s Balas Square. Within minutes, Islamists were fighting security forces and rampaging through the streets, pillaging shops and museums and attacking churches. Christians say they are being blamed for supporting an Army-backed youth movement that resulted in Morsi’s ouster on July 3.
In a Catholic church in the village of Mallawi, one hour away from Minya’s capital, Father Malak Girgis Ishaaq sought refuge with his Muslim neighbors when at least four masked men with beards entered his church and set fire to it with cans of petrol. A decapitated statue of the Virgin Mary is among the few items that remain standing. Muslims and Christians from the neighborhood, some armed with guns, eventually drove the attackers out, and put out the blaze.