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Prompted by conversion rumour, crowds attack church in central Egypt

Sectarian tensions in Beni Suef erupt after reports that a Muslim woman had converted to Christianity and left the country with a Christian man

Ahram Online , Friday 26 Apr 2013
Al-Wasata
Riot police encircle Saint George’s Church in Al-Wasata city in the governorate of Beni Suef (Photo: AO)
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Ahram Arabic website reported that clashes broke out between protesters and security forces at Saint George's Church in Beni Suef, with eight people injured and 11 arrested.

Angry Muslim protesters attempted to storm Saint George’s Church in Al-Wasata city in the governorate of Beni Suef on Friday.

Tensions erupted in the city recently after reports that a 21-year-old Muslim girl had disappeared, with her family accusing a Christian family in the city of forcing her to convert to Christianity and facilitating her travel to Turkey with a Coptic Christian man.

Local Islamist groups had given the Christian family a deadline to return the girl, which expired on Friday, reported Ahram's Arabic language website.

Security forces fired teargas grenades at angry protesters, who attempted to storm the church following the Friday Muslim prayer, and arrested five people for throwing Molotov cocktails at the church.

Security vehicles and forces are reportedly surrounding churches in the city.  

A number of traders have already closed their shops, particularly Christian jewelers who fear they will be targets.

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