A fire at the Church of the Virgin Mary in the Ain Shams district of Cairo earlier today appears to have gutted the structure, Watani International reports (Arabic).
صور لـ حريق كنيسة العدرا والملاك بدرياس بـ عين شمس pic.twitter.com/z8TAYdPisb
— Watani Paper (@Watanipaper) October 20, 2018
Ain Shams is one of the oldest suburbs of Cairo, and is built on the ancient city of Heliopolis.
At this time there have been no reports on the cause of the fire, whether it was accidental or deliberate.
But the loss of the church is yet another blow to Egypt’s embattled Coptic community – the largest Christian population in the Middle East – and will undoubtedly stoke fears of yet another open anti-Christian attack following suicide bombings of churches, killing of Coptic priests and parishioners, and ongoing mob attacks on churches in Upper Egypt.
Recent attacks have seen mobs attacking churches and the homes of Copts in opposition to the opening and use of new churches.
Until a law signed last year, it was virtually impossible for new construction of churches to be approved by the government, and many structures had to operate unlicensed. While the Egyptian government has since approved several hundred church construction applications, thousands more await approval.
Ain Shams has seen several attacks targeting Christians in recent years, and is known as a hotbed of Muslim Brotherhood support:
Aug. 2013: 10-year-old Jessie Boulous was shot and killed outside an evangelical church in Ain Shams following a Bible study class. Her killing occurred as Muslim Brotherhood supporters were continuing to stage large protests around Cairo following the removal of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi.
Jan. 2014: 23-year-old Ihab Ghattas is shot in the head and killed outside St. George’s Coptic Church in Ain Shams following Mass. According to the Maspero Youth Union, Ghattas was helping guard the church from a Muslim Brotherhood protest and was shot by a Muslim Brotherhood supporter.
Feb. 2014: An unidentified policeman was shot and killed while guarding a church in Ain Shams.
March 2014: A mob of Muslim Brotherhood protesters murdered 25-year-old Mary Sameh George, dragging her out of her car, severely mauling her, and then stabbing her to death, when they reportedly spotted a cross hanging from the rearview mirror of her car. She was delivering medicine to a church in Ain Shams.
In August 2013, Muslim Brotherhood supporters waged an extensive arson campaign across Egypt targeting Christian churches, monasteries, Christian-owned businesses and homes. More than 70 churches and monasteries were looted and burned.
I reported here at PJ Media on my trip into Upper Egypt in April 2014 visiting some of the churches that had been burned down by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Revisiting the Muslim Brotherhood's August 2013 'Reign of Terror' Targeting Egypt's Christians https://t.co/Rf31VJzz4z #homelandsecurity
— PJ Media (@PJMedia_com) August 14, 2016
This church in Minya I visited burned down by the Muslim Brotherhood was torched when MB mosque around the corner called out "GO ON JIHAD!" pic.twitter.com/HIdyVj3GBv
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 27, 2017
The Muslim Brotherhood made no efforts to hide their complicity in the arson attacks:
This Muslim Brotherhood FB page in Helwan openly incited attacks on churches and Christians in Aug 2013 pic.twitter.com/Cp4ZyUOsep
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 27, 2017
Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi supporters torch Egyptian churches http://t.co/OIjMrwF0ME
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) August 14, 2013
I’ve subsequently reported on my visit to the Boutrousiya Coptic Church beside the main cathedral in Cairo that was targeted by a suicide bombing in December 2016, killing 29 (all but one women and girls):
EXCLUSIVE: My Visit to the Site of the December Coptic Church Suicide Bombing in Cairo https://t.co/EfsTPiJUbD via @pjmedia_com pic.twitter.com/PvjwQv4g3o
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 9, 2017
It remains to be seen if the fire at the Church of the Virgin Mary today will be added to the ever-growing list of attacks targeting Egypt’s Coptic community.
Dec 29, 2017: Terrorists Attack Coptic Church South of Cairo, at Least 10 Reported Dead
Oct. 12, 2017: Coptic Priest Murdered in Cairo in Latest Anti-Christian Sectarian Attack in Egypt
July 15, 2017: Slashing at Coptic Church in Alexandria As Attacks on Christians in Egypt Escalate
June 24, 2017: Egyptian Authorities Bust Terror Cell Targeting Alexandria Church For Suicide Bombing on Eid al-Fitr
May 29, 2017: ‘Moderate’ Muslim Brotherhood Incites More Terror Attacks Targeting Egypt’s Coptic Christians
May 26, 2017: On Eve of Ramadan, Islamic Gunmen Kill 31 Coptic Christians on Pilgrimage in Egypt
May 9, 2017: My Visit to the Site of the December Coptic Church Suicide Bombing in Cairo
May 8, 2017: Islamic State Threatens More Attacks on Egypt’s Christians, Obama CVE Adviser Says They Have It Coming
April 14, 2017: New Attacks on Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt — But It’s Not the Islamic State
April 12, 2017: Egyptian Authorities Stop Planned Islamic State Terror Attack on Coptic Monastery in Upper Egypt
April 9, 2017: Two Blasts Strike Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday in Egypt, 49 Reported Dead
Feb. 25, 2017: Hundreds of Egyptian Coptic Christians Flee Sinai After Series of Islamic State Murders
Feb. 19, 2017: New Islamic State Video Threatens Egyptian Christians, Shows December Church Suicide Bomber
Feb. 13, 2017: More Coptic Christians Murdered the Past Two Months Than Admitted As Refugees During Obama’s Presidency
Jan. 3, 2017: Islamist Murders Christian for Selling Alcohol in Alexandria
Dec. 11, 2016: Cairo Cathedral Bombing Killing 25 During Church Service Fits a Familiar Pattern
Aug 14, 2016: Three Years After – Revisiting the Muslim Brotherhood’s August 2013 ‘Reign of Terror’ Targeting Egypt’s Christians
June 25, 2016: Disgraced Homeland Security Adviser Mohamed Elibiary Scapegoats Egypt’s Christians — Again
March 29, 2015: Muslim Brotherhood Mob Attacks Family of Coptic Christian Martyr Beheaded by ISIS in Libya
Join the conversation as a VIP Member