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Sharaf fails to calm crowds in Qena

Egypt's interim prime minister visits Qena where protesters had brought the city to a standstill following the appointment last month of a Coptic governor but his words do little to ease sectarian sentiments

Mahmoud El-Desouki , Tuesday 3 May 2011
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Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf on Tuesday visited Qena where demonstrations erupted on 15 April following the appointment of Emad Mikhail as governor. Protesters objected to a Christian being governor for the second time in succession.

Sharaf addressed an audience saying that although he had prepared a written speech he would rather speak to them “from his heart” and added that his government will pay attention to the development of Upper Egypt and appraised religious unity in Qena.   

While Sharaf had meant to discuss the crisis in Qena over a Christian governor, he instead stated “all of your demands will be met.” The crowds, in turn, chanted its demand of a Muslim governor to which Sharaf only repeated that demands will be met.

Life has returned to normal in Qena after Sharaf announced last week that he will freeze the activity of Mikhail for three months.

The protesters had been further angered by Mikhail's past as a police officer. During the peak of the protests, both the Eastern and Western highways leading into the governorate were blocked as well as train tracks, stopping trains coming from Luxor and Aswan as well as Cairo.

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