Middle East

Egyptian church cancels Mass for first time in 1,600 years amid Islamist attacks

A Christian church in Egypt canceled Mass for the first time in 1,600 years on Sunday amid increasingly violent attacks by Islamists following President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster.

“We did not hold prayers in the monastery on Sunday for the first time in 1,600 years,” Selwanes Lotfy, the priest of the Virgin Mary and Priest Ibram Monastery in Degla, told the al-Masry al-Youm, according to The Times of Israel.

Lofty said Morsi supporters targeted the monastery – which includes three churches and an archaeological site – in a recent attack.

“One of the extremists wrote on the monastery’s wall, ‘donate [this] to the martyrs’ mosque,’” Lofty added.

Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million population and have long suffered from discrimination and violence, according to the Associated Press.

Dozens of Coptic Christian churches and businesses in Egypt have been attacked by Islamists in the past week, after government forces cleared two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo.

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