Search

 

Cablegate: Upper Egypt Sectarian Strife Appears Unrelated to Cairo

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #1111 1540959
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020959Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9409

UNCLAS CAIRO 001111

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ELA AND DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI PHUM KIRF EG
SUBJECT: UPPER EGYPT SECTARIAN STRIFE APPEARS UNRELATED TO CAIRO
MURDERS

Sensitive but unclassified, not for Internet distribution.

1. (U) Summary: Tensions between Coptic and Muslim residents of the
Upper Egyptian village of Malawi continue to simmer after a land
dispute between a monastery and its neighbors turned violent on May
31, leading to fears of sectarian strife during the June 4
celebrations of the Virgin Mary Moulid. The monastery clash appears
unrelated to another recent crime involving Copts, the murder of
four jewelry store employees in Cairo. End Summary.

2. (SBU) About 40 Muslim residents of Malawi in Minia governorate,
attacked the Abu Fana Monastery on May 31. The residents hoped to
stop the monastery's construction of a wall blocking access to
agricultural land claimed by the villagers. According to our
contacts, a Muslim villager was killed and four Coptic Christians,
including two monks, were shot and wounded. Embassy contacts report
that three other monks were kidnapped, mistreated, released, and
hospitalized for treatment. An angry group of Copts later gathered
outside the hospital to protest alleged inaction by security
services, throwing rocks at hospital windows and damaging
surrounding property.

3. (SBU) Minia Governor Ahmed Dia Eddin sought to play down the
incident in an interview on Egyptian TV June 1, saying the violence
was simply a dispute between neighbors. Church contacts told us
that security officials did not intervene to stop the violence, and
200 Copts gathered outside the Bishop of Malawi's office on June 1
to protest government inaction. Security forces surrounded the
protest but did not interfere. Contacts reported fears that the
violence could lead to more sectarian strife during June 4
celebrations of the Virgin Mary Moulid, which will attract huge
numbers of Copts and Muslims from throughout Egypt to the village of
Gabal el-Tier 50 miles from Malawi.

4. (U) The monastery, one of the oldest in the world, has been a
target of angry neighbors in the past who are embroiled in a
long-standing land dispute with the monks. Most recently, on Jan.
10, monks reported that an armed Muslim group fired at the monastery
and police failed to intervene.

---------------
Jewelry Murders
---------------

5. (U) The Minia violence has not been linked to a shooting May 28
at a jewelry shop in the Cairo suburb of Zeitoun. According to
press reports, two hooded men with sunglasses and wigs entered the
shop at noon, opened fire with automatic weapons and killed the
Coptic store owner and three employees. Police reported that no
jewelry was taken from the shop. According to a Ministry of Interior
statement, the shooting was unrelated to sectarian strife or
terrorism. Prosecutors are reportedly investigating a former worker
who had been fired by the shop's owner for theft.

6. (SBU) Comment: We have no indication that the jewelry store
shooting is related to the monastery attack. The press has reported
on an average of five violent robberies of jewelry stores each month
this year. Local officials point to the land dispute as the cause
of the monastery violence. Nonetheless, the sectarian overtones of
the monastery incident could lead to increased strife between
Muslims and Copts during the June 4 Moulid celebrations.


SCOBEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC