Work will begin in the coming days in Minya on a church that was planned to honour the deaths of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians who died in a brutal sectarian attack by militants in Libya earlier this year.
Plans and licences for the ‘Church of the Martyrs’ have been finalised to begin the work, head of the Samalout municipality in Minya said, as reported by MENA state news. Major General Gamal Mubaral Qinawy confirmed that the church will be built in the village of Al-Awar, in the district of Samalout.
Qinawy said that work on the construction of the church will begin in the coming days, with the project having secured EGP 5m so far, out of a total required cost of EGP 10m. The rest of the money will be collected while construction is underway. He noted that the work was initially stalled due to a required licence from the Ministry of Agriculture.
In February, a video was published online by a Libyan militant group affiliated with the so-called “Islamic State” which showed the beheading of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians, and another African Christian.
The Coptic Egyptians were captured on two separate occasions from the Mediterranean coastal city of Sirte between December and January.
In response, Egypt quickly launched retaliatory air strikes against suspected Islamist militant targets in the eastern Libyan city of Derna. However, the attacks, described by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as “revenge”, were controversial. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused Egypt of hitting numerous civilian locations, accounting for at least seven deaths. The rights groups suggested that Egypt may have been guilty of “war crimes” for failure to take adequate care to protect civilians from harm.
However, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Badr Abdelatty told Daily News Egypt at the time that “no civilians were killed in the attacks” and that the claims were “nonsense reports based on wrong information”.
Minya itself has been a flashpoint for sectarian attacks, most notably in 2013 after the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood former president Mohamed Morsi. The period following his ouster saw numerous churches burnt and Christians and their properties attacked.