Cairo Clashes

May 9, 2011 by staff 

Cairo ClashesCairo Clashes, Egyptian forces on Monday, police announced that seventeen people were arrested during violent sectarian clashes on Saturday in suburban Cairo Imbaba, Ahram newspaper reported.

Among the 17 arrested suspects of being the main instigators of Imbaba violence that left at least 12 dead and many more injured. On Saturday, Muslims, Salafi Islamists many of them clashed with the Copts outside a church.

Yassin Thabet, 31, one of the detainees, said the clashes began after his wife who converted to Islam seven years ago was not allowed to leave the Santa Mena Coptic Orthodox Church.

Witnesses said the two sides exchanged fire, sending people running for cover. The military and riot police fired shots into the air to separate the two sides. At least 232 people were injured, while 190 were arrested.

Research and interviews are still ongoing. Another church in the same district was burned by an angry mob after. On Sunday, the Copts took to the streets to protest the sectarian violence.

The protesters urged the military government council that the instigators to justice and punish them. Army forces were deployed to contain the demonstrators. Protests continued on Monday as well.

In addition, Copts claimed that the army did not stop attacking the Salafis as soldiers reportedly stood still while the Muslims attacked the two churches. Others said that Saudi Arabia is supporting the Salafists.

The European Union and High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, said the body is gravely concerned about the deaths and injuries caused by violent clashes.

“I applaud the actions of the system adopted by the transitional leadership to restore order, and I urge the authorities to bring perpetrators of violence to justice in civilian courts,” added Ashton, also the European Commission Vice-President.

Sectarian clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians have increased in the last year. A Coptic church in Alexandria was bombed on New Year’s Day, killing 23 people. Ten days later, gunmen killed a Christian man and wounded five others on a train in Egypt.

There are about 8 million Coptic Christians in Egypt, representing about 10 percent of the population.

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