News / Middle East

Clashes in Cairo Spark Fears of Sectarian Violence

A Muslim woman holds a Quran during a show of solidarity with protesting Coptic Christians, Cairo, Egypt. October 10, 2011.
A Muslim woman holds a Quran during a show of solidarity with protesting Coptic Christians, Cairo, Egypt. October 10, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Noel King

Egypt's ruling military council on Monday ordered the government to investigate the killings of at least 25 people in Sunday's street battles between Coptic Christians and Egyptian security forces.

The order came after crisis talks on the country's worst violence since a February uprising that swept then-President Hosni Mubarak from office.

The clashes began when Coptic Christians marched in downtown Cairo to protest the burning last week of a church in southern Egypt.

Coptic protesters said they expected a peaceful march. They say they were attacked by the Egyptian army. Tensions heightened further when thousands more protesters - some of them Muslims who supported the Copts, and some of them supporters of the military - took to the streets.

Coptic marcher Emad Hatef had an Egyptian flag tied around his neck. Like many of the marchers, he blamed the violence on Egyptian Islamists.

"I am here just to say 'no' to all Islamists. I hope to tell you something. There is a difference between Muslims and Islamists," said Hatef. "There is a very big difference. Muslims here in Egypt is our brothers. We are live for 14 centuries. But about Islamists take money for Saudi Arabia."

Hatef said the Egyptian military, though, also shouldered some of the blame.

Coffins of Coptic Christian victims from Sunday's violence are readied for funeral procession, Cairo, Egypt, October 10, 2011.
Coffins of Coptic Christian victims from Sunday's violence are readied for funeral procession, Cairo, Egypt, October 10, 2011.

"We saw a lot of bodies under the military cars. They have videotapes and everything. You can't imagine what happened to Christians today. The military in any place in all the world must to save his country, but here in Egypt, just to kill Christians," said Hatef.

Egypt's military-appointed Cabinet held an emergency meeting Monday. In a nationally televised address late Sunday, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said Sunday's violence had taken the country backward. He blamed the fighting on what he called the "hidden hands" of foreign and domestic conspirators.

The violence has the potential to destabilize relations between Egyptian Muslims and Coptic Christians, though some analysts say they believe moderate views - and cooler tempers - will prevail.

Youssef Sidhom is chief editor of the Coptic newspaper Watani. He said he believes that Egyptian Christians and Muslims are natural allies.

"I don't think that it is wise to call for any civil war between a 90 percent majority Muslim and a 10 percent Christian minority. I do not believe this is a wise choice because Copts are not standing alone against militant Islam or violent fundamentalist Muslims," said Sidhom. "Most of the moderate Muslims are sympathizing with the Copts and crying out for extreme equality."

What Sidhom fears is what he calls the rise of militant Islam in Egypt.

"It is not a direct fight or a civil war between Christians and Muslims. It is a direct fight - but not a civil war - between kindhearted moderate Egyptians, whether Muslims or Copts on one side, and militant Islam which is growing more and more," he said.

After the Egyptian uprising, Islamist groups that were banned during the presidency of Hosni Mubarak began to organize politically - causing anxiety among Coptic Christians and more liberal Muslims. Most groups organized under Islamist principles say they want an Egypt governed by Islamic law, but have no desire to oppress Egypt's Christian minority.


You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid