Following sectarian clashes in Giza, demonstrators protest 'forced migration of Copts'

Ahram Online, Thursday 2 Aug 2012

Coptic groups stage protest after coptic homes burned, reports 120 families were expelled, in Dahshour, Giza as angry crowds attempted to 'avenge' the death of Muslim man in a personal brawl with a Copt

Post the sectarian clashes in Dahshour on Wednesday (Photo: Ahram Gate)

Hundreds of demonstrators on Wednesday evening converged on Egypt's Presidential Palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district to protest sectarian clashes that took place in the town of Dahshour, Giza, south of the capital, earlier the same day.

Demonstrators also protested against the alleged forced migration of Coptic-Christian families from the town in the aftermath of the clashes.

The Maspero Youth Union, a revolutionary group that defends Coptic rights, released a statement following the Dahshour clashes alleging that 120 Coptic families had since been expelled from the area.  

Protesters carried banners reading, "No to the forced migration of Dahshour's Copts" and "Down with the rule of the Supreme Guide," the latter being a reference to the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

The demonstration was attended by members of several Coptic movements, including the Maspero Youth Coalition and Copts for Egypt, along with a number of Coptic residents of Dahshour.

Ealier on Wednesday morning, nine people, including Director of Criminal Investigations of Giza Security Directorate Mahmoud Farouk, were injured in clashes between tens of Muslims and Copts in the village of Dahshour, Giza.

The clashes were a continuation of clashes that had erupted last Thursday initiated by a random fight between a Muslim and a Copt.

The fight escalated drawing more people, and left one Muslim, Moaz Mohamed Mohamed, seriously wounded.

Clashes were renewed early Wednesday when Mohamed died. Several houses belonging to Christian residents in addition to two businesses in the town were burned down by crowds angered by Mohamed's death.

Security forces interfered when reportedly Muslim and Christians faced off and started shooting gunfire and throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at one another in clashes that left nine people injured.

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

Three central security trucks were set ablaze, three police officers and thirteen soldiers were injured in the Church clashes according to Ahram.

Investigations revealed that the fight that had erupted a week when a Copt, who irons clothes for a living, and one of his Muslim customers, became entangled in a brawl after the Copt had accidently burned the latter's shirt.

A special security team was appointed to secure Mary Guirguis Church and Copts' homes in the village.

The last major sectarian clashes that erupted in Egypt took place in May 2011. 

At least twelve people were killed and 186 injured in Imbaba, Giza, in fights between Muslims and Copts due to a controversy over allegations made by some Salafists a Christian woman had been abducted by the Coptic Church and held against her will after she reportedly converted to Islam. Those reports were refuted by the woman later.

Forced migration of Copts has also been reported in the past, following sectarian clashes over the past two years. The most recent example of the forced migration of Copts was reported to have taken place in January of this year in the town of Ameriya in Alexandria.

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