Copts maintain Cairo sit-in for sixth day running

Dina Samak , Thursday 10 Mar 2011

Reconciliation efforts seem to have reduced Muslim-Christian tensions in the village of Soul, but thousands of angry Copts and sympathetic Muslims maintain their protest outside the state TV building for a sixth day

A Christian cleric shouts as people demonstrate in front of the Egyptian Television building (Photo: Reuters)

For the sixth day in a row the Coptic sit-in in front of the state television building in Cairo continues. The crowds are protesting the torching of a church in the village of Soul on the outskirts of Helwan.

The protesters insist on continuing their protests until all their demands are met. These include the arrest of those behind the torching of the church, the immediate construction of a new church in the same site, and dismissing the governor of Helwan who the protesters see as responsible for the incident.

Eyewitnesses in the village of Soul say that the village seems to be less tense following the visit of a number of political and religious figures to the village yesterday. However, a sit-in by some of the Muslims of the village in the vicinity of the church still continues, but in smaller numbers.

The events follow clashes between a Muslim and a Christian family in the village last week, in which the Martyrs’ Church was set on fire and hundreds of Christians were forced to evacuate their homes. Mohamed Hassan, a Muslim cleric who visited the village yesterday in an attempt at reconciliation, told Egyptian state television that his attempt was not completely fruitful and that he has agreed with the Muslim protestors in the village to visit them again after 48 hours for “more discussions”.   

Many Muslims have joined the sit-in in Cairo to show solidarity with the Coptic demands, whilst a big demonstration is being organized tomorrow for the same purpose. The Coptic Church is also expected to send a group of representatives to the sit-in to convince the protesters to give the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces a chance to contain the situation.

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