News / Middle East

Egypt to Use 'Iron Hand' for Security After Deadly Sectarian Violence

Egyptian Christians carry the coffin of one of the victims of Saturday night's clashes with Muslims in the streets of western Cairo, during a funeral ceremony at Giza church, Sunday, May 8, 2011
Egyptian Christians carry the coffin of one of the victims of Saturday night's clashes with Muslims in the streets of western Cairo, during a funeral ceremony at Giza church, Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bloody sectarian clashes erupted overnight after a crowd of Islamic extremists massed in front of a Coptic Christian church in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba, claiming that a woman who had allegedly converted to Islam was being held inside the church. Twelve people were killed and dozens wounded in the violence, while two churches were also set ablaze.

Egyptian authorities have imposed a curfew in the Cairo district of Imbaba, the scene of a vicious sectarian battle between Muslim extremists and Coptic Christians trying to defend their neighborhood.

It was not clear which side began shooting, although both Christians and Muslims accused "thugs" from outside the neighborhood of igniting the conflict. Dozens of mostly young men threw stones and petrol bombs at each other, while others traded gunshots.  Two churches were torched during the melee and a nearby apartment building, housing Christians, was gutted.

Military police intervened to stop the fighting, as firemen worked to extinguish the blazes at the Mar Mena and Holy Virgin churches. Egypt’s Supreme Military Council later announced that 190 people allegedly involved in the violence had been arrested.  Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, who canceled a trip to the Persian Gulf, chaired an urgent Cabinet session.

Justice Minister Abdel Aziz Al Gindy told journalists after the meeting the government was taking decisive steps to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.

He said sectarian strife is putting the country in peril and the government is trying to save it from what he calls a conspiracy. He added that authorities will use an iron hand against anyone who provokes violence and police will be deployed in sensitive areas of the country. He insisted the law will be used to protect freedom of worship and to protect houses of worship from attack.

Top Muslim and Christian leaders condemned the bloodshed and pleaded for calm.  The Sheikh of Al-Azhar University, Ahmed Tayeb, called for an urgent meeting of Christian and Muslim religious leaders in an effort to find a formula to contain the crisis.

Sheikh Haitham Islam of Al-Azhar’s Fatwa Committee blamed "trouble-makers" from the deposed regime of former President Hosni Mubarak of trying to create a crisis.

He said he was calling for the creation of popular committees to discuss the violence and to try to avoid civil strife, along the lines of what is taking place in Libya, Yemen, or Syria. He went on to accuse elements of the former government of trying to stir up violence in the country.

Coptic Bishop Theodosius of Giza insists there is no conflict between Muslims and Christians in the area where the violence occurred, accusing outside forces of provoking troubles.

Christian attorney Naguib Gobrail, who heads the Egyptian Human Rights Forum, complained on Egyptian TV that authorities are not taking strong enough measures to stop attacks against Christians.  

A small group of Coptic Christians demonstrated in front of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, urging American intervention to protect Christians in Egypt.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

update At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid