Wealthy targeted, those who refuse remain barricaded in homes
Assiut (Agenzia Fides) — In the Egyptian village of al-Qusiya, 50 kilometers from Assiut, members of the Coptic families Fahmy and Azmy were forced to barricade themselves in their homes after a gang of extortionists attacked them for not paying "taxes" imposed on them by the Muslim clan of Ahmed Kamel Zaawila.
This week’s episode represents the last serious development in a long line of intimidations suffered by the Copts in Qussiya by the Zaawila clan. At least twenty complaints lodged to the local police after the perpetration of similar cases — reports the Coptic Watani network — have fallen on deaf ears.
In this circumstance, the members of the Fahmy family have complained directly to the Minister of the Interior pro tempore, Muhammad Ibrahim. The concern among the Copts of the village increased after the clan leader Ahmed Zaawila phoned one of them, directly from prison, and ordered them not to lodge any other complaints, asserting that attempts to appeal to the local police would be useless.
The scourge of "taxes" imposed on Copts by Muslim extortionists is becoming alarming in Assiut, in the Upper Nile. "The victims of such harassment," explained Anba Kyrillos William, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut, "are mostly wealthy Coptic families, whose members have earned a lot working in Kuwait or in other foreign countries. The criminals have no scruples because they find pseudo-religious justifications for their behavior, being convinced that it is permissible for a Muslim to steal the goods of Christians. Christians instead in some cases are uncertain whether to denounce the payment of taxes or to shut up and pay. The effect is that this type of crime increases. At the same time, in some cases it has been proved that the extortionists have paid bribes to some police officers in order to secure impunity."