Thousands of Copts protest in front of Abbasiya Cathedral

Ahram Online, Friday 6 May 2011

Thousands of Copts gather in front of Abbasiya Cathedral to express their anger over last week's Salafist demonstration at the same location

Three thousand Copts gathered today in front of the Coptic Cathedral in Abbasiya in a “Coptic million man march,” to protect it from attacks by Salafists.

The march was staged as a response to a march by 10,000 Salafists in front of the cathedral last Friday to demand the release of Camelia Shehata, the wife of a Coptic priest who was allegedly detained by the church after she converted to Islam last year.

Mena Saleeb, one of the protesters standing in front of the cathedral, said that last week’s protest by Salafists disturbed many of the country’s Copts.

“Copts throughout Egypt were upset by last week's Salafist protest and came here today to express their anger and to show that they will protect the cathedral from any attack,” said Saleeb.

Saleeb added that an earlier announcement by Salafist groups that they will not hold another protest today did not affect their own decision to come. He added that many Copts wanted to show their solidarity with Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of the Coptic Church.

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