Egyptian authorities should take the necessary steps to protect churches and religious institutions against mob attacks, Human Rights Watch said today. Since August 14, 2013, attackers have torched and looted scores of churches and Christian property across the country, leaving at least four people dead. Authorities should also investigate why security forces were largely absent or failed to intervene even when they had been informed of ongoing attacks.
Immediately following the violent dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo on August 14, crowds of men attacked at least 42 churches, burning or damaging 37, as well as dozens of other Christian religious institutions in the governorates of Minya, Asyut, Fayum, Giza, Suez, Sohag, Bani Suef, and North Sinai. Human Rights Watch has verified with family members and a lawyer that at least three Coptic Christians and one Muslim were killed as a result of sectarian attacks in Dalga, Minya city, and Cairo.