Egypt court releases 7 arrested during April cathedral clashes

Ahram Online, Thursday 30 May 2013

North Cairo court releases seven men – with bail set at LE2000 each – accused of involvement in April clashes at Cairo's main Coptic Orthodox cathedral

A north Cairo court on Thursday ordered the release of seven people who had been arrested for suspected involvement in April clashes outside St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo.

The suspects have been released from police custody with bail set at LE2000 each.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have appealed the release order.

On 7 April, two people were killed and at least 90 injured when unknown assailants attacked mourners outside the cathedral, where a funeral service was being held for four Coptic Christians killed one day earlier in the north Cairo village of Al-Khosous.

Dozens were injured during ensuing clashes between local residents and mourners. Police fired teargas over the walls of the cathedral in an effort to disperse the crowds. Dozens were arrested in connection with the disturbances.

Violence had broken out in Al-Khosous after a group of Christian youngsters reportedly painted offensive drawings on the walls of a local religious institution.

In the subsequent violence, which raged for hours afterward, guns were fired and shops and building set alight by angry mobs, leading to the death of six people including four Christians.

The incident was one of the worst bouts of sectarian violence since the 2011 ouster of autocratic president Hosni Mubarak.

Members Egypt's Coptic Christians minority, which represents an estimated 10 percent of the country's population of 84 million, have historically complained of discrimination and failure on the part of the government to protect them from sectarian violence.

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