On the afternoon of January 6, a number of youths found a suspicious-looking cardboard box inside the Church of St. Antonious in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya. From its appearance, the box seemed to contain explosives, so the youths slowly removed it from the church, placing it in the middle of the street. They then phoned the police, who arrived immediately and whisked the box away.
Why did these young men take the risk of handling a container they thought might blow up at any minute? According to them, they did so out of concern that security forces might not respond with celerity to a threat upon a church, but would definitely rush to the scene if the threat were posed to the public at large. And there was another reason: The parishioners wanted the incident to be registered, openly, so that it cannot be denied, written off as the work of vivid imaginations and consigned to the dustbin of undocumented history.
Nothing more has been heard about the suspect parcel to date. Irrespective of the package’s actual contents – or what the Egyptian Ministry of Interior later announces them to be -the incident in Minya is telling of the deep distrust that Coptic Christians in Egypt bear toward the security forces and their commitment to serve and protect, irrespective of religious affiliation.