In south Egypt, Islamists take over a town

Local Copts live in ‘horror, humiliation’ after radical Morsi supporters drive police out of area, strip ancient chapel bare

Egyptian priest Samuel Zaki views the damaged main church inside the Virgin Mary and St. Abraam Monastery that was looted and burned by Islamists, in Dalga, Minya province, Egypt. (AP Photo/El Shorouk Newspaper, Roger Anis)

Egyptian priest Samuel Zaki views the damaged main church inside the Virgin Mary and St. Abraam Monastery that was looted and burned by Islamists, in Dalga, Minya province, Egypt. (AP Photo/El Shorouk Newspaper, Roger Anis)

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DALGA, Egypt (AP) — The Coptic Orthodox priest would only talk to his visitor after hiding from the watchful eyes of the bearded Muslim outside, who sported a pistol bulging from under his robe.

So Father Yoannis moved behind a wall in the charred skeleton of an ancient monastery to describe how it was torched by Islamists and then looted when they took over this southern Egyptian town following the ouster of the country’s president.

 “The fire in the monastery burned intermittently for three days. The looting continued for a week. At the end, not a wire or an electric switch is left,” Yoannis told The Associated Press. The monastery’s 1,600-year-old underground chapel was stripped of ancient icons and the ground was dug up on the belief that a treasure was buried there.

“Even the remains of ancient and revered saints were disturbed and thrown around,” he said.

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