Five die in Christian-Muslim clashes in Egypt

A woman holds a picture of Mohamed Mahmoud, who was killed during clashes between Muslims and Christians in Khusus Credit: Reuters
A woman holds a picture of Mohamed Mahmoud, who was killed during clashes between Muslims and Christians in Khusus
Credit: Reuters

Five Egyptians were killed and eight wounded in clashes between Christians and Muslims in a town near Cairo, security sources said on Saturday, in the latest sectarian violence in the most populous Arab state.

Christian-Muslim confrontations have increased in Muslim-majority Egypt since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 gave freer rein to hardline Islamists repressed under his rule.

Four Christian Copts and one Muslim were killed when members of both communities started fighting and shooting at each other in El Khusus north of the Egyptian capital, the sources said. State news agency MENA put the death toll at four.

An angry crowd smashed shops belonging to Christians, residents said. A Reuters reporter saw a burned-out Coptic day care center and several damaged shops belonging to Christian traders. An apartment inhabited by Muslims was also burned.

Residents said the violence broke out on Friday when a group of Christian children were drawing on a wall of a Muslim religious institute.

A Reuters reporter saw what looked like a swastika drawn on the wall, which Muslim residents said had offended them because it looked like a cross.

“I saw the kids drawing on the wall after afternoon prayers so I grabbed them and told them to remove what they’d just written,” said Mahmoud Mahmoud al-Alfi, a Muslim resident.

Then another man arrived and started beating the children, drawing a large crowd, he said. The situation escalated when someone drew a gun and fired into the air, killing one boy with a stray bullet.

“Suddenly the area was full of weapons,” Alfi said, while weeping Muslim women sat nearby in front of a house, showing pictures of a man they said had been killed during the clashes.

The president’s office expressed condolences to the victims and vowed to fight any sectarian violence.

“The presidency … totally rejects any attempt against the unity and cohesiveness of Egyptian society and will decisively confront any attempt to spark sectarian strife among Egyptian people, Muslim and Christian,” according to a statement.

Muslim leaders were also quick to condemn the sectarian violence which comes as Egypt struggles with a severe economic crisis and high inflation after two years of political upheaval.

Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, of Egypt’s leading Islamic authority Al-Azhar, urged measures to prevent the situation from escalating and to “preserve the national character which characterises the Egyptian people, Muslims and Christians,” MENA said.

“The sectarian riots which happened in El Khusus are unacceptable and grave,” Saad al-Katatni, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood political party, said on his Facebook website. “There are some who want to set Egypt ablaze and create crises.”

President Mohamed Mursi, a Brotherhood leader elected in June, has promised to protect the rights of Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 84 million people.

TIGHT SECURITY

On Saturday the situation was calm but tense in the small town where Muslims and Christians live close to each other but in separate streets. Security was tight with police vehicles parked in the main streets.

Police detained 15 people, a security source said.

In a Christian neighborhood dozens of angry young men gathered at noon on Saturday, chanting “with our blood and soul we sacrifice ourselves for the cross”. The crowds left after a priest came and asked them to leave to calm tensions.

“There are people who want to cause sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians,” said a Christian man who gave his name as Kameel. “I’ve been here longer than 30 years and I have never seen any violence or extremism in our area.”

Sectarian tensions have often flared into violence, particularly in rural areas where rivalries between clans or families sometimes add to friction. Love affairs between Muslims and Christians have also sparked clashed in the past.

Since Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising, Christians have complained of several attacks on churches by radical Islamists, incidents that have sharpened longstanding Christian complaints about being sidelined in the workplace and in law.

As an example, they point to rules that make it harder to obtain official permission to build a church than a mosque.

Last month, a court sentenced a Muslim to death for killing two people in a dispute with Christians in a southern town.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Local

Local politicians pressure DOJ to investigate Ramarley Graham…

On what would have been his 21st birthday, Ramarley Graham's mother joined elected leaders to ask the U.S. Department of Justice investigate his death.

Local

Muslim leaders welcome NYPD surveillance changes with degree…

Leaders and advocates praise the NYPD's move to shut down a unit tied to its Muslim surveillance program but say there's more left to do.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Going Out

Tasty chicken and waffles in NYC

Try some soul food goodness around the city.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

NHL

Marc Staal healthy, eager to contribute to Rangers…

Marc Staal remembers the feeling of helplessness watching his teammates compete for hockey’s ultimate prize and being unable to contribute.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

Masahiro Tanaka dominates Cubs over eight shutout innings

Masahiro Tanaka certainly had no-hit caliber stuff Wednesday as he allowed just two bunt singles.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.