NAZLA, Egypt — The call for revenge raced through this village southwest of the capital and echoed from the loudspeakers of mosques last week as the military invaded two protest camps in Cairo, killing hundreds of supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi.
“El-Sisi is killing our children,” a man screamed, referring to Egypt’s defense minister, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi. “Muslims, come out of your homes!”
Hundreds of Islamists poured into the street, torching, looting and smashing the village’s two churches and a nearby monastery, lashing out so ferociously that marble altars were left in broken heaps on the floor.
Over the next few days, a wave of similar attacks on the Coptic Christian minority washed over the country as Islamists set upon homes and churches, shops and schools, youth clubs and at least one orphanage, killing at least three people, according to an Egyptian human rights group. As Christians were scapegoated for supporting the military ouster of Mr. Morsi, the authorities stood by and watched: in Nazla, as in other places, the army and the police made no attempt to intervene. Few Christians in Nazla expected an investigation into the attacks.
A police station in the area had been attacked before the churches. Ebraam Sami, who lives near one of the gutted churches, said fire trucks appeared on the edge of the town, but never entered. “They said it was difficult,” he said.
Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist party that propelled Mr. Morsi to power, encouraged or tolerated incitement against Christians at their sit-ins, but they have started belatedly to condemn the attacks. And the military-backed government, which has done little to protect Christians, is trying to capitalize on the church burnings to paint the Brotherhood as terrorists.