Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (The Egyptian Presidency)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi warned on Thursday against attempts to drive a wedge between Egyptians and vowed to hold violators accountable amid a recent series of violent sectarian attacks in the country's south.
Speaking during a military graduation ceremony, El-Sisi urged national unity between Egyptians, saying Christians and Muslims are equal in rights and duties.
"We have to pay attention to all attempts being made to drive a wedge between Egyptians," El-Sisi said.
His comments come days after a Muslim mob stabbed a Coptic Christian to death during a street argument in the southern governorate of Minya.
Alluding to the incident, El-Sisi vowed that "whoever made a mistake will be held to account by law, starting from the president."
"It's a state of law," he added.
There are no official figures on the number of Christians in Egypt. But unofficial figures suggest Christians make up around 10 to 15 percent of Egypt's population of 91 million.
On Saturday, a group of Muslims attacked and set ablaze houses of Christians in the village of Abu-Yacoub, also in Minya, after acting upon a rumour that a Christian intended to turn a kindergarten into a church. At least 14 people were arrested over the assault.
In May, Muslim villagers torched seven homes of Christians and assaulted a Christian man's elderly mother, parading her naked in public. The assault in Minya's El-Karm village was sparked by rumours that the man was having an illicit relationship with a Muslim woman.
The incident sparked public outcry and prompted El-Sisi to vow to bring the attackers to justice.