Maspero Youth Union to protest sectarian violence

Ahram Online, Monday 5 Aug 2013

Sectarian clashes left 17 people injured in Minya in Upper Egypt on Saturday

A Coptic rights group will hold a demonstration outside the prosecutor-general's office in downtown Cairo on Monday to protest recent attacks on Egyptian Christians.

Seventeen people were injured in sectarian clashes in the Upper Egyptian town of Minya on Saturday. Seven houses were torched in the violence while dozens of shops and at least nine cars were damaged.

The Maspero Youth Union said in a statement published on its official Facebook page that it condemns the incident. It called for "implementation of the law" and for a "clear statement regarding violence against Copts." 

It blamed the violence on "extremist Islamists and supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi." 

It also demanded "sufficient guarantees for protection of Copts and investigation of security bodies falling short of their duties."

In addition, the union said that Family House, an anti-sectarian project launched by Al-Azhar [Egypt's highest Islamic institute], should take a stand against "extremist religious speech."  

Several political parties have also condemned the clashes in Minya. 

The Constitution Party said in a statement on Monday that “the situation could be aggravated" if the state does not address issues of sectarian strife "seriously and clearly." 

Similarly, the Strong Egypt Party held security forces were responsible for any such clashes, saying they should work on preventing violence according to the law. In a statement released on Sunday, it called on all political factions to condemn these acts that "harm the national interest."

Seventeen people were injured, including one police officer and three conscripts, when clashes erupted in three villages in Upper Egypt's Minya on Saturday. 

In Bani Ahmed village, a fight broke out between three men, two Muslim and one Christian, at a cafeteria shortly before sunset.

The "normal” fight ended when the "wise men of the village made peace between them," Bishop Macarius of Minya's archbishopric said in a statement on Sunday. 

"However, later the men returned with larger groups and clashes erupted triggering more people to join from nearby villages of western Bani Ahmed, El-Awam, Bani Mahdi, Abo Talawi [and others], until they became about four thousand people."

The statement said that different groups in the crowd used Molotov cocktails while others fired birdshot. It added that there were some anti-Christian chants, as well as chants against the police and the army.

After about three hours security forces were able to make their way to the site, according to the statement.

"In the nearby Al-Rida village a rumour spread that Christians in the neighbouring eastern Bani Ahmed village attacked a mosque," the statement said. "Hearing that, young people attacked the houses of Copts, hurling stones, and damaging doors and windows." 

Stones were also hurled at the Evangelical and Apostolic churches there. 

Similar tensions also took place in the western Bani Ahmed village.

Calm has since been restored in the area. 

The prosecution in Minya launched an investigation on Sunday into the violence. 

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