Coptic Catholic Bishop Youhannes Zakaria claims food supplies are running low

A Catholic bishop in Luxor, about 400 miles south of Cairo in Egypt, said Muslims and Christians are afraid to leave their homes and are running out of food.

Coptic Catholic Bishop Youhannes Zakaria of Luxor told Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples: “I’m crying for all these simple people – Muslims and Christians – who live in the villages nearby and don’t have anything because their food supplies are running out and people are afraid to leave their homes.

“Even those who are well off can’t buy food because all the shops are closed. I’d like to go help them myself, but I can’t because I’m also forced to stay inside.”

After Egyptian police and the military broke up camps of demonstrators protesting against the ousting of former President Mohammed Morsi, further demonstrations took place across the country, including in Luxor.

“After being chased from the centre of Luxor, the pro-Morsi demonstrators arrived under my residence shouting, ‘Death to the Christians’. Fortunately, the police arrived in time to save us. Now the police and the army have two armored vehicles parked here,” Bishop Zakaria said.

While the death and destruction in Luxor has not been as bad as in other parts of Egypt, the bishop said the homes of some Christians have been burned and that it is advisable for people to stay in doors if possible.

Bishop Zakaria revealed that celebrations of the Dormition of Mary, the Eastern equivalent of the Feast of the Assumption, scheduled for August 22 had been cancelled for security reasons.

The bishop said the Muslim Brotherhood is going after Christians because “they think Christians are the cause of Morsi’s fall.”

He added: “It’s true that Christians participated in the demonstrations against Morsi, but 30 million Egyptians – most of them Muslims – took to the streets against the deposed president.”

Father Fady Saady, a Coptic Catholic priest in the province of Luxor, said his church had suspended nighttime activities, including games for children and youth meetings, due to the newly imposed 7pm curfew.

“There is still a state of nervousness and thoughts that more difficulties lie ahead,” Father Saady said.

He said the city of Naqada, where his parish is situated, had “so far” been spared the attacks seen on Christian churches, schools and homes elsewhere throughout Egypt. But he said the latest attacks on Christians in other parts of the country were worse than those that occurred throughout the 1990s “because (the Muslim Brotherhood) is striking in the open, unlike before when they were striking in secret.”

Egypt’s Coptic Catholic Church has said it supports the country’s military in the face of what it calls “a war on terror” against the Muslim Brotherhood, which church and military officials blame for the attacks on Christian, government and security establishments. The Muslim Brotherhood has denied using violence in its campaign to restore Morsi to office.