Court releases 16 people facing trial for sectarian attack in Egypt's Minya

Ahram Online , Friday 22 Jul 2016

The court agreed to release the defendants after reconciliation with the victims, although they will still face trial

A court in Minya ordered on Thursday the release of 16 people pending trial on charges related to sectarian attacks in the governorate earlier this week, a statement by the interior ministry read on Friday.

On Saturday, assailants set ablaze houses of Christians in the village of Abu Yacoub after acting upon a rumour that a Christian intended to turn a kindergarten into a church.

The court agreed to release the defendants after those who were attacked reconciled with the attackers. The 16 individuals still face trial.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi commented on Friday on a number of sectarian attacks that have taken place in the country's south recently.

 El-Sisi urged national unity between Egyptians, saying Christians and Muslims are equal in rights and duties.

"Whoever made a mistake will be held to account by law," he warned.

The southern governorate of Minya has long been a hotspot for attacks on Christians.

Last week, a Muslim mob stabbed a Coptic Christian to death during a street argument.

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.

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.

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