The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) asserted on Sunday night that Saturday's deadly clashes in the city of El-Khosous north of Cairo were "premeditated" and intended to cause chaos.
"The FJP is following developments with great concern in the area of El-Khosous, where events have escalated in a suspicious manner through the orchestration of provocative situations that lead to sectarian strife," the party asserted in a Sunday night statement.
The latest incidents, the FJP added, "are aimed at dragging the nation into chaos, [a state of affairs] from which only Egypt's enemies and their agents will benefit."
El-Khosous was rocked by sectarian violence in the early hours of Saturday. By Saturday afternoon, five people lay dead.
Violence re-erupted on Sunday afternoon following an attack on Cairo's main Coptic cathedral during a funeral held for the Copts slain during Saturday's violence.
"The FJP urges Egyptians, both Muslims and Christians, not to respond to these systematic provocations," the party stated. "It also calls for everyone to rely on the rule of law in order that those responsible for the attacks – regardless of their religion or any other affiliations – might be punished."
Clashes first erupted late Friday night in El-Khosous after a group of Coptic teenagers reportedly painted offensive drawings on the walls of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Egypt's highest seat of Islamic religious learning.
"The party reiterates the sanctity of Egyptian blood and renews its rejection of violence, calling on security bodies to uncover the plot aimed at stoking sectarian tensions," the FJP asserted. "[Threats against] Egypt's security, social harmony and national unity are red lines that must be dealt with harshly."
The party also called on both Egypt's Coptic Church and Al-Azhar to launch an initiative aimed at "easing tensions between the citizenry and warning the public of the dangers of responding to such provocations."
For his part, FJP Secretary-General Mohamed El-Beltagi said on Sunday evening via Facebook that the "despicable attacks on the cathedral" had been perpetrated by "criminal thugs with the aim of sowing division rather than anything having to do with religion."
El-Beltagi added that recent events in El-Khosous suggested the existence not of sectarian strife but rather of "a premeditated scheme aimed at fuelling chaos."
Public prosecutors have already launched formal investigations into Saturday's clashes.