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Egypt's Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya condemns banishment of Copts after clashes

After Copts left their home town fearing a violent expulsion over recent Muslim-Christian clashes, the orthodox Islamist Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya organisation speaks out

Ahram Online, Saturday 4 Aug 2012
Dahshur
The town of Dahshur following the sectarian clashes
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Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya released a statement late Friday confirming it is unlawful to assault the lives and properties of Christians under any circumstances, adding it is sacrilegious and banned by Islam.

The statement came following the sectarian clashes that erupted in the Giza town of Dahshur Wednesday. One person died in a knife fight and dozens more were injured. More than 120 Coptic families living in the area were forced to leave town, fearing they would be violently expelled.

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya stated that they don't believe the Dahshur clashes result from sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians, but rather: "this was a random incident not related to religion and that had been initiated by an ironing man who is a Christian Copt."

The law, stressed Al-Jamaa, should be applied.

Egypt, with its lack of police force on the streets and slow judiciary, occasionally sees mobs skipping any judicial process, prompting some political groups to urge citizens to stick to law and order.

Notably, Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya also confirmed its position against the forced banishment of any citizen.

The statement further called on all the residents of Dahshur to contain the problem and forbid looters from taking advantage of the current situation to steal.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, nine people, including the Director of Criminal Investigations of Giza Security Directorate Mahmoud Farouq, were injured in clashes between tens of Muslims and Copts in the village of Dahshur, Giza.

The clashes were a continuation of a fight that had erupted Thursday, when a Copt, who irons clothes for a living, and one of his Muslim customers became entangled in a brawl after the Copt accidently burned his client's shirt.

The fight escalated, drawing more people, and left one Muslim, Moaz Mohamed Mohamed, seriously wounded.

Clashes were renewed early Wednesday when Mohamed died. Several houses belonging to Christian residents in addition to two businesses in the town were burned down by crowds angered by Mohamed's death.

Security forces interfered when reportedly Muslims and Christians faced off and started shooting gunfire and throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at one another in clashes that left nine people injured.

According to Al Ahram Arabic-language news site, there was also a reported failed attempt to set the Mary Girgis Church on fire before security forces used tear gas to disperse angry crowds. A special security team was appointed to secure Mary Girgis Church and Copts' homes in the village.

Three central security trucks were set ablaze, three police officers and thirteen soldiers were injured in the Church clashes according to Al-Ahram.

Forced eviction and banishment of Copts have been commonplace following sectarian clashes over the past two years. The most recent example forced banishment was in January of this year in the town of Amriya in Alexandria.

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya's political wing, the Construction and Development Party, is among the political groups intervening to end the clashes in Dahshur.

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