As the majority of Egypt turns its eyes to the street fighting between supporters of the ousted president Mohammed Morsi and government security forces in Cairo elsewhere in the country Christians have been attacked over the last day, including reports of churches being burned to the ground, according to CNN.
Bishop Angaelos, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, told CNN that he had heard that 52 churches throughout Egypt had been attacked on Wednesday. Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, confirmed that at least 30 churches have been attacked as well as schools and cultural centers, according to CNN.
While there is still no definitive proof as to who is responsible for the attacks many people are blaming the Muslim Brotherhood. Eighty-four people have been arrested and turned over to the military to be charged with crimes ranging from murder to burning of churches, according to EGYNews, a state-run news service.
Egyptians have been posting information about the violence and pictures of the burning churches on to Twitter.
— ▲Samy قائد (@samy_qaid) August 14, 2013
"We would want the people who have done it to be brought to justice because I think they are trying to do something which is much more dangerous," Angaelos told CNN. "It's not just the burning churches, it's about burning churches to initiate a response that then spirals into even greater violence - and that is a very, very dangerous game to play." Ramez Atallah, the general director of the Bible Society of Egypt, made a statement reporting the destruction of their bookshops in the cities of Assiut and Minia, in southern Egypt. In the statement Atallah stressed that Christian businesses were not the only ones being attacked, according to CNN. "It is important to underline that - while some Christian properties have been the victim of this violence - they are by no means the only ones targeted," Atallah said. "This is an attack against the state by a violent minority in an attempt to destabilize the nation."
MB Burning another church in Assuit in upper Egypt pic.twitter.com/FVHOKTFdlF #MB_are_terrorists — Love Life &Smile (@loveLife_Smile) August 14, 2013
The Christian minority in Egypt has been subject to attacks in recent years, a church bombing in Alexandria killed 21 people in 2011, and things have only gotten worse since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, according to CNN.
"In the past two-and-a-half years, we've had more deaths of people just because they are Christians than in the last 20 years," Angaelos said.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird joined the Ambassador for Religious Freedom Andrew Bennett in issuing a statement condemning the violence in Egypt, according to CBC.
"We urge all parties to engage in a productive dialogue to ease tensions," the statement said. "We also call on all Egyptians to show maximum restraint and resolve in the coming days. We are concerned by recent attacks on religious institutions in Egypt, in particular the unconscionable attacks on Coptic Orthodox and Anglican churches and on Baptist and Franciscan institutions."