CAIRO (BP) -- Attacking churches across Egypt, pockets of supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi continue to retaliate against a deadly crackdown by government security forces.
File photo of an evening meeting at Beni Mazar Baptist Church in Minya, Egypt, long before it was attacked by militants Aug. 14.
Pro-Morsi demonstrators were angered by Wednesday's crackdown on protesters in Cairo. Widespread protests and violence continue throughout the country, with nearly 700 people reported dead and more than 3,700 injured.
The Muslim Brotherhood previously had warned that if government forces attacked its protesters, they would retaliate by attacking the country's minority Christian population.
So far, nearly 70 churches, Christian institutions and businesses have been attacked, burned or destroyed.
The attacks appeared to be planned, since they occurred nearly simultaneously across the country, Christianity Today reported, quoting one church leader in the town of Assuit as saying, "It had to be pre-planned. It happened [here] at the exact time the attacks happened in Cairo."
Among churches targeted was Beni Mazar Baptist Church in Minya, located 150 miles south of Cairo. It was attacked and burned. No casualties or injuries were reported, although the pastor and his family live on the premises.
The first news of the attack came on Wednesday from Mounir Sobhy Yacoub Malaty, pastor of First Baptist Church in Cairo and a leader of Egypt's Baptist convention. At noon Malaty posted on his personal Facebook page: "Pray: Baptist Church in Beni Mazar, Minya, has been attacked."
Malaty quickly followed with an update, "Beni Mazar Baptist Church on fire." Later he posted a brief video showing the ransacked and burning remains of the church.
Months earlier, John Amin*, pastor of the Beni Mazar church, had said, "We live here at the church, so if someone attacks our church, they attack our home. The kids are afraid."
Many in the community around the church are afraid, Amin said, but he still had a vision to see the church packed with those seeking Christ. "We want the community to see us and come and grow the church," he said.
A jovial man, sometimes called the Egyptian Santa Claus, Amin has a broad smile that might hide the challenges he now faces, which are severe.
Minya reported the country's highest number of attacks against churches, totaling 14. One of Egypt's oldest Coptic Christian churches, the fourth-century Church of the Virgin Mary there, was torched and burned Wednesday.
In addition, the Egypt Bible Society bookstore in Minya was destroyed. Read More