Egypt's Grand Mufti condemns attacks on Copts, criticises police

Ahram Online , Friday 3 Aug 2012

Mufti Ali Gomaa said Coptic residents of Dahshur 'had not been displaced following sectarian clashes but had chosen to leave voluntarily', and they should now return to their homes under 'Muslim protection'

Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa described the recent sectarian clashes in the town of Dahshur, Giza as "painful" during his Friday sermon at the Fadel mosque in 6 October City, Greater Cairo.

Gomaa warned about the gravity of the situation, which went beyond a "traditional fight."

Violence broke out after a personal quarrel between a Muslim and Coptic Christian in the town quickly escalated, drawing in residents from both communities.

Clashes ensued, eventually leaving one Muslim resident dead and several injured, and the Christian residents of the area were forced to leave, according to a report by Coptic activist group the Maspero Youth Union.

Gomaa also criticised the slow reaction of the country's security forces, saying that so far no serious investigation has been launched.  

Gomaa urged the Coptic residents who left their homes following the outbreak of the clashes, estimated to be around 120 families, to return back to their town "under the protection of Muslims."

He urged the media not to use the term "displacement", as Copts were not forced to leave their homes; rather, he said, it was a wise personal choice by Christians to leave temporarily in order to prevent more bloodshed.

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