Coptic protestors clash with police over "right to pray"

Salma Shukrallah, Thursday 25 Nov 2010

Police clamped down on Coptic demonstrators protesting a moratorium on construction carried out in a Church in the Cairo district of Omraneya, resulting in one death

Coptic protests

Coptic Christians protesting a government moratorium on construction being carried out in a Church in the Cairo district of Omrani, clashed with anti-riot police leading to at least one death and a yet unspecified number of injuries. Demonstrators raised banners proclaiming: "We have a right to pray".

Police used rubber bullets and tear gas against a crowd of over a couple of hundreds. Besieged demonstrators began breaking up outdoor plant pots into throwing stones and using sticks to push back police forces. At least 23 have been destained including Al Jazeera's cameraman.

Starting early this morning at 7:30 am, the demonstration continued for almost two hours. However, residues of tear gas are still evident in the area around the Giza Governorate, leading to the closure of all schools in the vicinity.

According to Soheir Yossry, a Muslim who took part in the protest after dropping her daughter off at school, "When demonstrators heard a rumor that someone was killed at the church, we ran towards the other side of the road, at which point state security began using rubber bullets and tear gas to contain us."

 "when the crowd began suffocating from gas, they broke down outdoor plant pots to use them as throwing stones and began using the crosses they were carrying to push back against police forces," said Yousry describing fellow Coptic demonstrators' reaction to police violence.

Twelve-year old Mahmoud El Said, who goes to Mubarak School near the Giza Governorate premises, says that a boy at his school was injured when the clashes erupted and was taken to the hospital.

The church, which was issued a court order to cease construction, had begun attempting to build a stairway last night.

Clashes are still ongoing on the Ring Road in Omraneya and in the area of the underprivledged, Al Konayesa and surrounding side streets.

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