Rights groups seek peace after sectarian clashes in Egyptian village

Ahram Online , Sunday 5 Aug 2012

Following sectarian clashes that saw 120 Coptic families flee their homes in Dahshur, Egypt, a delegation of activists and Coptic leaders seek reconciliation on the ground

police vehicles are parked in Dahshour village, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Cairo, a day after a sectarian violence erupted in the village following the death of a Muslim man, prompting most the local Christians to flee, church and security officials said. (Photo: AP)

A delegation of a number of activists and Coptic Christian representatives are set to visit the town of Dahshur, Egypt on Sunday following sectarian clashes that took place last week.

The president of the Union of Coptic Organisations in Europe, Medhat Kalada, a member of the Coalition of Egyptian Copts, Fadi Youssef, in addition to representatives from the Association of Victims of Disappearances and Abductions, are amongst those expected visit the Dahshur village in Egypt's Giza governorate.

Other notable figures who were set to attend but later cancelled include former independent liberal MP Mohamed Abu-Hamed, former liberal MP of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party Emad Gad and columnist Fatema Naout.

According to Kalada the delegation will investigage and mainly help reconcile the town’s Muslim and Christian communities. "Our patriotism is purely driving this sentiment," he added.

The clashes in Dahshur erupted Wednesday following a personal quarrel between a Muslim and a Copt earlier in the week, drawing in residents from both communities. Clashes ensued, eventually leaving one Muslim resident dead and several injured.

Several houses belonging to Christian residents in addition to two businesses in the town have also been burned down by angry crowds.

On Wednesday, the Maspero Youth Union staged a protest outside the presidential palace located in Heliopolis, Cairo and released a statement where it mentioned that approximately 120 Coptic families were forced out of town following the clashes.

The incident has drawn large-scale attention, outrage and concern.

On Thursday, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali stated that President Mohamed Morsi had "Ordered the relevant authorities to strictly implement the law and not allow any violations." He also stressed the need to "Never allow anyone to attack public or private property or terrorise any Egyptian citizen."

On Thursday, the Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of Egypt's parliament) set up an eight-member committee tasked with reconciling Dahshur's Muslim and Christian communities with the aim to pre-empt further violence.

Moreover, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa on Friday characterised the incident as "painful," and criticised the security forces for not launching a serious investigation into the issue.

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