Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has vowed to punish a Muslim mob that destroyed seven Christian homes and dragged an elderly woman through the streets after rumors spread that her son had an affair with a Muslim woman.
As earlier reported, during the attack last Friday, the 70-year-old mother of the Christian man, who had fled the village in Minya province, was beaten and insulted by the mob before being publicly stripped of her clothes. She was then paraded naked on the streets while the Muslim mob chanted Allahu Akbar, or "God is great."
"They burned the house and went in and dragged me out, threw me in front of the house and ripped my clothes," the unnamed grandmother told Reuters on the condition of anonymity. "I was just as my mother gave birth to me and was screaming and crying."
Two people were injured and seven homes torched by the Muslim mob, who first burned the house of the Coptic Christian man allegedly involved with the Muslim woman.
Minya's top Coptic Christian cleric, Anba Makarios, revealed that the police arrived at the scene of Friday's violence nearly two hours after the attack began and arrested just six people.
"No one did anything and the police took no pre-emptive or security measures in anticipation of the attacks," the cleric said. "We are not living in a jungle or a tribal society. It's incorrect for anyone to declare himself judge, police and ruler."
Amid public outrage, The Telegraph reveals that on Monday, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said during a speech in Cairo that those responsible for what happened to the Christian grandmother and the homes destroyed in Minya will be punished.
"When I address my speech to this woman, I don't say this [Christian] Egyptian because we are all one," el-Sisi was quoted as saying. "I call on this woman not to be angered by what happened."
"We are all Egyptians who are equal in rights and duties," el-Sisi added. "It is not appropriate that what happened be repeated. Whoever commits an offense will be held accountable."
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of more than 90 million people, have long complained of discrimination in the predominantly Muslim country. In Egypt, Christian men cannot marry Muslim women in Egypt unless they convert to Islam first, but Muslim men can marry Christian women.
In an interview, Makarios said the late arrival of the police gave the attackers "ample time" to do what they had set out to do and suggested that if the case were different, and a Muslim man was having an affair with a Christian woman, the reaction would have hardly been so violent.
"It is a disgrace for honest men to remain silent while accepting, seeing or hearing this," Makarios said.
Egypt is 22nd on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.
"The large Coptic minority, while facing important difficulties, has been tolerated because of its historical presence and its demographic size," reads the report. "In recent years this has changed, however, causing historical Christian communities to be targeted as well."