Egyptian Christians protest over a church burning

Reuters, Monday 7 Mar 2011

Approximately 1000 Christians protested today in front of the television building in Central Cairo against the torching of a Cairo Church on Saturday

A Christian cleric makes a speech as people demonstrate in front of the Egyptian Television building to protest the torching of a church (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian Christians protested on Monday a church was set on fire on the outskirts of Cairo, the latest sectarian flare-up in a country already facing political turmoil, witnesses said.

Some Muslims also joined the crowd of about 1,000 people who gathered outside the state television building in central Cairo.

Witnesses and a security source said the church in Helwan was torched after a row sparked by a romance relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman.

Such interfaith relationships often cause tensions in Muslim-majority Egypt, where Christians make up about 10 percent of the country's 80 million people.

Members of the woman's Muslim family clashed among themselves over the affair and two Muslim men were killed. Muslims from the woman's village then burned the church on Saturday, witnesses said.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of ruling military council that is governing the country after Mubarak, said the army would rebuild the church before Easter holidays.

Last year Egypt saw more than its usual share of sectarian strife, and a rights groups has said such clashes have been on the rise. But mass political protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11 brought Muslims and Christians together.

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