A church in Shubra Al-Kheima was surrounded on Monday evening amid attempts to carry out legal reconstruction of the building.
Abu Makkar church was in the process of constructing an annex for the building when Salafis surrounded the premises in an effort to halt work on the new addition. Maspero Youth Union member Mina Al-Qess claimed that the Islamists remained around the church until about 1:30am on Tuesday morning.
Al-Qess mentioned that there have been issues with local Salafis in the past concerning construction on the property.
Bishop Morcos of Shubra Al-Kheima told Aswat Masriya: “The church obtained a licence from Shubra Al-Kheima neighbourhood to remove a violating building that falls between the service building of the church and the neighbours, as the removal was being implemented under the supervision of the police forces, we found that the church was being besieged by around 150 Salafis without a clear reason.”
The bishop added the diocese had previously reported similar incidents to the prosecutor general. “We notified the officials, yet it happens again and everyone is silent about it,” he added.
Governor of Cairo Adel Zayed released a statement on Tuesday saying that he ordered the temporary halt of the legal construction on the property until a solution was found in the dispute among some local residents.
The Salafis objected to the construction, saying that it was unlicensed, despite the Coptic Church insisting that it had received prior governmental approval.
All incidents of church construction and repair require approval from governorates. Churches have come under attack in the past by locals who claim the construction is illegal.
Last November Salafis in Shubra Al-Kheima stormed church property, declaring it a mosque. The interior ministry intervened after the group had conducted prayers in the area under a raised banner reading “Rahma Mosque.”