13 killed in clashes between Copts and Muslims in Egypt

Clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square

Egypt suffered the deadliest unrest since President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster when clashes Wednesday between Muslims and Coptic Christians left 13 dead and 140 injured.

The bloodshed, on the edge of a Cairo slum, renewed concern about the government’s willingness to protect the Christian minority. Army units intervened only after Muslims set fire to homes and businesses.

“The people attacked us and the army was helping them. The army was among those who shot at us,” said Massoud Younan Abde Mach, a 47-year-old Christian who works as a garbage collector.

An army officer, who declined to provide his name, denied that the military fired shots and said, “Both sides attacked and the army was caught in the middle.”

“We had to wait for reinforcements before going in,” he said. “Without us, the losses would have been greater.”

Authorities said the dead were evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, and witnesses said the victims included a 14-year-old boy who was shot in the head.

At its first meeting Wednesday, the new government of Prime Minister-designate Essam Sharaf denounced the violence and said it would strictly enforce laws forbidding attacks on places of worship. It also pledged to redeploy police forces that have not returned to the streets at full levels since Mubarak was toppled from power last month.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians, about 12% of the population, have long been subject to discrimination. No church can be built or repaired without a presidential decree. Copts have also been targeted in a recent series of attacks, including the New Year’s Day bombing of a church in Alexandria that killed 25 worshipers. The Mubarak government blamed that attack on an Al Qaeda-linked Palestinian militant group.

The latest unrest began Tuesday when a group of men from the largely Christian slum known as Garbage City blocked a nearby highway to protest the burning of a church last week in a rural Egyptian village. A crowd of Muslims then gathered around them, and a shouting match consisting of unfounded rumors ensued: The Muslims are planning to say Friday prayers at the site of the burned church! The Christians are kidnapping veiled women in the slum over there!

By evening, Eid Anwar had locked the plastic recycling plant he owns and walked across the street to his home. His wife was preparing breaded chicken and baked macaroni in the oven. His 10-year-old son played video games.

They heard a horde of people rushing up the hill and working their way through the Anwars’ iron gate. Other homes were also under attack, but the army stood on the sidelines, he said, and the few Muslim homes were skipped.

Read Full Article: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-egypt-riots-20110310,0,5789132.story

Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.

Copyright © Australian Coptic Movement (ACM) | Australian Copts Calling for Human Rights in Egypt | Site by Mammoth Web