Cairo. 16 April 2003. Reports have reached Barnabas Fund of an attack on a Christian center on 5 April by elements of the Egyptian army, commanded by a high-ranking officer.
Soldiers attacked the Patmos Center, some 30 kilometers east of Cairo, on 5 April, who came with armored vehicles, tear-gases bombs and a bulldozer and was under the command of a Lieutenant General. Workers at the center and local Christians bravely confronted the soldiers, parking their cars in front of the Vehicles and even lying down in the path of the bulldozer in an effort to Protect the center's perimeter wall from destruction.
Officials at the center believe this outrageous attack was perpetrated by Conservative Islamic elements within the military in response to the current war In Iraq because they associate Egyptian Christians with the 'Christian' West. However, the attack also forms part of a wider pattern of aggression by the army against the center. Five previous attacks have occurred in 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2002. The ostensible reason for the aggression has been that the army wants to Knock down the wall in order to expand a passing road. However, workers at the Center point out that other buildings in the surrounding are closer to the road but are not being similarly targeted.
In previous attacks some buildings at the centre suffered severe damage. On other occasions large sections of the perimeter wall were levelled and trees outside the centre uprooted. Staff who have protested against the attacks have at times been threatened and beaten. One teacher at the centre had his arm broken during an attack in February 2002.
The Patmos Centre has been serving the local community in Egypt for fifteen years. The centre is providing love, care and support for both mentally and physically handicapped children and orphans, and is legally registered with the Egyptian authorities. The continued hostility towards the centre, and this latest attack directed by someone of the rank of Lieutenant General, make a mockery of the often repeated claim of the Egyptian government that Christians enjoy complete equality with their Muslim neighbours and never face any form of discrimination.