Christian residents of Egyptian border towns Rafah and Al-Arish have so far refused to leave the city, as a local church had advised, after they received leaflets containing messages threatening to blow up their property if they do not leave within 48 hours.
Rev. Gabriel Habib, priest at the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael in Al-Arish, said Christian residents had refused to leave temporarily to avoid fulfilling the extremists’ goal of forcing them out of their city.
Habib added that some Christians told him, “Even if we die, we are not better than the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their homeland and religion,” adding that they will stay with their Muslim neighbors.
Seven Christian families saw leaflets posted on the walls of their shops or homes, commanding them to leave within 48 hours or else have their property destroyed.
Habib said, “The church of Rafah was destroyed during the January revolution [of 2011] and has not been renovated yet.” He added that “prayers have stopped there, because of the security situation in the Sinai.”
Rev. Carlos Victor, secretary of the diocese of North Sinai, quoted security sources as saying that investigations have shown that [the warnings to Christians] were random and no organizing group was behind them, and that it is likely that these leaflets were distributed by Muslim residents angry at the film that insults Prophet Muhammad.