Al-Khosous residents call for release of detainees

Ahram Online , Monday 15 Apr 2013

Muslims and Christians sign joint petition calling for release of detainees arrested after sectarian violence that killed five people

Sectarian violence in Al-Khosous left cars burnt, shops damaged and at least six killed (Photo: Randa Ali)

Muslims and Christians in Al-Khosous have signed a petition to press for the release of local residents arrested after a recent bout of sectarian violence.

The initiative was spearheaded by the General Revolution Coalition to call for Christian-Muslim unity in Egypt.

The move comes after the prosecutors renewed the detention of those arrested pending further investigations.

Those arrested face a range of charges including burning private property and places of worship, thuggery, using firearms, acts of intimidation, and inciting strife.

Khaled Mahmoud, a lawyer taking part in the initiative, claimed those arrested were not involved in the violence and live away from the scene of clashes.

According to Mahmoud, thirty Muslims and two Christians were arrested.

Some of those arrested were protecting the homes of Christians and others were trying to reconcile the two sides, he said.

A security source said arrest warrants were issued following investigations and testimonies by eyewitnesses.

On Thursday, at least 20 dignitaries from Al-Azhar, the Coptic Church and other relevant parties took part in a reconciliation session in Al-Khosous in an attempt to resolve the sectarian tensions.

Violence broke out in Al-Khosous in Qalioubiya governorate after Christian children allegedly painted offensive drawings on the wall of an Islamic institute.

In the ensuing violence, which raged for hours, guns were fired and shops and buildings set ablaze, leading to the deaths seven people, including four Christians and two Muslims. The religion of the seventh person has not been confirmed.

Two people were killed and at least 90 injured the next day when unknown assailants attacked mourners outside St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo where a funeral service was being held for the four Copts killed in Al-Khosous.

Police fired teargas over the cathedral walls and reportedly stood by as unknown assailants armed with birdshot, knives and petrol bombs attacked those inside the cathedral grounds.

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