Egyptian mob parade Christian mother naked through streets
A mob of Muslims paraded an elderly Christian woman naked through the streets and set ablaze seven Christian homes over rumours of an interfaith relationship in a village in the south of Egypt.
The incidents took place last Friday in the village of al-Karam in Minya province after word spread that the 70-year-old woman's son had an affair with a local Muslim woman – a taboo in conservative Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Church said in a statement on Facebook.
The statement said that even though the man's parents had told police they were receiving threats, security forces took two hours to arrive after Christian homes started to come under attack.
Anba Makarios, Minya's top Christian cleric, told a local TV talk show that the woman was dragged out of her home by the mob who beat her before they stripped her naked and forced her to walk through the streets as they chanted religious slogans.
During the attack, the armed mob looted and set fire to seven houses belonging to Christian families, the church said.
Police have arrested six men suspected of taking part in the violence and are looking for 12 more, security officials have said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Christians, who make up about ten percent of Egypt's population of more than 90 million people, have long complained of discrimination by the mostly Muslim nation.
Christian men cannot marry Muslim women in Egypt unless they convert to Islam first, but Muslim men can marry Christian women. An affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman is almost certain to cause a great deal of trouble if the couple are found out, particularly in rural areas.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was hailed by the church and many Muslims as their saviour from Islamists after the former army chief toppled Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Sisi, however, had been a member of the ruling military council following Mubarak's ouster in 2011, when 26 Copts were killed in clashes with soldiers outside the headquarters of state television.
The incident, intensely publicised since Wednesday night, has unleashed a flurry of condemnations on social media networks where users accused ultraconservative Salafis of being behind the violence.
The Arabic-language hashtag #EgyptStrippedNaked has gained traction on Twitter shortly after it was introduced.
Translation: "The tragedy of the woman in Minya affirms that humanity has killed itself in Egypt. The whole society is not ruled by law but the arbitrary whims of low lives. This is the consequence of the death of the state of law."
Translation: "The woman who was stripped in the street is an Egyptian mother who has no support system to protect her. The whole of Egypt was stripped naked in the street today."