Two Coptic children were detained on charges of Defamation of Islam. Mina Nady Farag, 9, and Nabil Nagy Rizk, 10, both from the village of Ezbet Marco in Beni Suef, were arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center until Sunday, pending investigation into a complaint submitted by the village Muslims. The children will appear again before prosecution on Sunday.
Nabil's father told Copts United that his son does not read or write. He said the children were searching in a pile of trash to find "something useful" when they came over a plastic bag with torn papers. They were stopped by a Salafi sheikh, who took the children to church to report them to the priest. "He insisted that the priest stop mass and come outside to talk to him," said a resident of the village. The priest went out and chided the two boys.
Not many newspapers covered this story which broke out on Monday, and those which did had several versions of the story.
Al-Ahram, the semi-governmental daily, said in its October 1 issue that authorities succeeded in containing a sectarian crisis between Muslims and Christians by arranging a meeting between Muslim and Christian families, where the Christians apologized and the Muslims accepted their apology. Al-Ahram wrote that the two nine-years-old boys were tearing some old papers in a library, including papers "suspected to be from the Koran", when an imam of a mosque saw what they were doing, and subsequently took them to their parents to complain. Later the newspapers changed the story and reported that the two children "urinated" on the Koran.
"We thought the matter was sorted out after the meeting between the Muslim and Christian families two days ago, but we were stunned today when both boys were to be held in custody in a juvenile detention center," said Nabil's father.
It was reported this evening that the Muslims in Ezbet Marco have prevented the priest of the church from entering the village, allegedly because he did not chastise the two boys enough.
Some Copts believe that the real aim behind this defamation of Islam story is to ban the priest from the village and stop any prayers in its church.
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