Islamists torch Christian-owned shops in southern Egypt

( A mob of Islamists burned several Christian-owned shops in a wave of violence directed against Christians in southern Egypt near the ancient city of Luxor.

The attack came just hours before the start of a trial for a young Christian man who is facing blasphemy charges over a series of Internet postings, The Associated Press reported.

Egyptian Christians have been disproportionately targeted in blasphemy cases. According to the U.S. State Department, nearly 40 percent of the defendants in blasphemy cases in Egypt are Christians, despite the fact that Christians constitute about only 10 percent of the population.

Islamists have also increasingly targeted Christian churches, homes, and businesses, in addition to abducting Christians for ransom or conversion to Islam.

“In only one province (El-Minia), its Coptic bishop recently revealed that between June 30 and the present time, he recorded 90 kidnap cases of Copts, some of whom have been killed even after their families paid the demanded ransom,” Halim Meawad—the Egyptian-born co-founder of Coptic Solidarity, a U.S.-based international Coptic Christian human rights organization— recently told

In a wave of violence last August, the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters attacked more than 200 churches, Christian businesses, and private homes, leaving at least seven Christians killed and hundreds injured.

Posted on June 2, 2014 .