Copts have not been forcefully displaced from Egypt village: presidency

Ahram Online, Saturday 4 Aug 2012

Dashour Copts were not forced to leave but chose to out of fears of further clashes, says presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali

Yasser Ali
Presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali

Dashour's Copts have not been forced to migrate following recent clashes, said presidential office spokesperson Yasser Ali Saturday. Those Copts who left the town were motivated by fear of future clashes.

Ali said President Mohamed Morsi had received reports stating that Copts were not forced to leave but did so of their own volition.

Copts who have suffered material damages will be compensated, Ali said, adding that the president also contacted Al-Azhar's grand imam and the acting Coptic pope to intervene to end the crisis.

Last Wednesday, nine people, including the director of criminal investigations in the Giza Security Directorate, Mahmoud Farouk, were injured in clashes in Dashour, which were a continuation of clashes that had erupted a week earlier.

Investigations revealed that a Copt who irons clothes for a living and one of his Muslim customers became entangled in a brawl after the former accidently burnt the customer’s shirt. The fight escalated and drew more people in, leaving one Muslim, Moaz Mohamed Mohamed, seriously wounded. He later died of his injuries. Clashes broke out again after his death.

Several houses belonging to Christian residents, in addition to two businesses in the town, were reportedly burned down by crowds angered by Mohamed's death.

Security forces intervened when Muslim and Christians faced off and started firing guns and throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at one another.

According to Ahram Arabic news, there was reportedly also a failed attempt to set the Mary Girgis Church on fire before security forces used tear gas to disperse angry crowds.

Subsequent reports stated that some 120 Christian families were forced to leave Dashour in the aftermath of the clashes.

President Morsi ordered authorities to punish culprits of the sectarian clashes in Dashour "to the full extent of the law."

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