ٍSecurity vehicles are seen in Beni Suef village following recent sectarian violence (Photo: Ahram Arabic news website)
Egyptian prosecutors ordered the detention of 18 people in connection with sectarian violence that took place Friday in a village in Beni Suef, the latest in a series of such attacks in recent weeks.
The incident was sparked by a group of Muslim youngsters who hurled stones at a Christian-owned building in Al-Kharsa village after reports its owner would turn it into a church without a license. Security forces intervened to ease the situation and security cordons were put up around houses in the village.
Prosecutors Sunday ordered 18 people detained for four days over the violence, a judicial source said.
They face charges of "disrupting public peace and assaulting personal freedoms" and "damaging the house and a car of a Coptic villager."
A local housing committee ordered a halt to development work of the house of local Nnadi Yacoub, saying he violated the issued license.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 90 million, have long complained of discrimination and sectarian attacks in the predominantly Sunni Muslim country.
The incident in Beni Suef is the latest in a wave of sectarian incidents in the country's south.
Last week, a Muslim mob stabbed a Coptic Christian to death during a street argument in the southern governorate of Minya.
The attack prompted President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to warn against attempts to "drive a wedge" between Egyptians and vowed to hold violations to account.
Days earlier, a group of Muslims attacked and torched houses of Christians in the village of Abu-Yacoub, also in Minya. The Family House, a group of Muslim and Christian leaders that promotes peaceful coexistence, said Saturday reconcilation was successfuly reached between warring families in that village, while settlement efforts continue elsewhere.
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.
That attack sparked public outcry and prompted El-Sisi to pledge action on sectarian incidents.