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Parliament to debate exile of Alexandria Christian families Sunday

The results of the investigation into the eviction of eight Coptic families from Alexandria, Egypt will be discussed on Sunday in parliament

Ahram Online, Saturday 18 Feb 2012
Coptic demonstration
Coptic Christians protest in Cairo following attacks on churches by militant Salafi Islamists in May 2011. (Phoro: Reuters)
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The Human Rights Committee of Egypt's parliament, headed by Mohamed El-Sadat, will present its findings on Sunday concerning the eviction of eight Coptic families in El-Amreya district in Alexandria. 

Parliament Speaker Saad El-Katatni had requested that the Human Rights Committee investigate the case, upon a petition filed by appointed MP Marianne Malak.

The case concerns eight Coptic families who were evicted after an informal hearing held by a prominent sheikh in the district ruled that the families be banished from their homes and their belongings sold.

The families were evicted over a crisis that erupted at the end of January when obscene footage of a Muslim woman was leaked from the cell phone of a Christian man.

Brawls erupted between Muslims and Copts as a result of the footage, escalating to the point where several Coptic homes were torched. To quell the violence, an informal hearing (a somewhat common practice in lawless areas) was called and attended by representatives of both sides. This is where the sheikh that presided over the hearing ruled to banish the eight families.

Several political groups have released a statement condemning the eviction of the Coptic families before the case was brought to parliament. A march to parliament was also organised, demanding action be taken against the eviction, as the informal hearing is outside of the law and legal protections for minorities.

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