An elderly Christian woman was beaten, stripped and paraded through the streets in Egypt by a crowd of enraged villagers.
The mob of 300 Muslim men in the Minya province village of Karama also ransacked and torched seven houses belonging to Orthodox Coptic families.
The incident took place last Friday after a rumor spread that the unfortunate 70-year-old woman’s son was having an affair with a Muslim woman — a practice that is considered taboo in the country. The violence started around 8 p.m. on May 20 and the district said it was over two hours before the police arrived, by which time the mob had already dispersed.
Authorities arrested six men who allegedly took part in the parade and are on the lookout for 12 more, said a security official who wished to remain anonymous.
Anba Makarios, Minya’s top cleric, said the family of the Christian man had alerted the police of the threats against them, but the police neglected to take any security measures.
“We are not living in a jungle or a tribal society,” stated Makarios during an interview on a local channel. “It’s incorrect for anyone to declare himself judge, police and ruler.”
He also criticized the police over their delay, which he said gave the attackers more than enough time to commit the heinous crime. He added if a Muslim man was caught having an affair with a Christian woman, the reaction would have been quite different.
The victimized woman reported the incident to the Egyptian police five days later because she was struggling from humiliation.
The local governor of Minya, Tarek Nasser, has refuted the claim and said the woman was not stripped of her clothes. However, he did admit that some “irrational youths” launched flaming missiles into the homes of Christians.
The Christian community makes up of 10% of Egypt’s population and at least 35% of Minya’s populace is Christian.
Extramarital affairs are forbidden in both the Christian and Muslim communities in Egypt and have led to bloody family feuds.
Violence has broken out over lesser “offenses” than the one committed by the old woman’s son. Four Christians and one Muslim were killed during a shooting rampage that started after a group of Christian children were spotted drawing on the walls of a Muslim religious institution.
Criminal gangs have also been known to kidnap young Christian girls, convert them and force them into hiding until they become adults. Christians often complain the authorities do not do enough to bring justice to their families.