Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more



Egypt Latest: At Least 19 Killed in Clashes Over Christian March 

Armoured vehicles drive into the crowd in Cairo

2220 GMT: The Ministry of Health now reports 23 dead and 174 injured. A curfew has been called for 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. in central Cairo.

2120 GMT: A pair of juxtaposed images tell a story of the night --- a wife is shown in the first with her new husband, in the second she is holding his hand in the morgue:

2100 GMT: Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has stated on his Facebook page: "What is happening now is not clashes between Christians and Muslims. Rather, it is an attempt to sow chaos and strife."

There are reports of hundreds of people attacking the Coptic Hospital in Ramses, where scores of injured are hospitalised, smashing cars when they could not get into the hospital.

An eye-witness reports a police pick-up truck charging protesters attempting to get to Tahrir Square. Small groups of demonstrators are re-grouping in the surrounding streets.
Al Jazeera reports:

At least 19 people have been killed and dozens more injured in riots that erupted in Cairo when Coptic Christians protested against the recent destruction of a church, health ministry officials say.

The Copts were demonstrating outside the state television building in central Cairo on Sunday when they clashed with locals.

Military vehicles were set on fire and thick black smoke rose along the Nile outside the state television building, the state-run station reported.

The clashes spread to nearby Tahrir Square and the area around it, drawing in thousands of people.

They battled each other with rocks and firebombs, some tearing up pavement for ammunition and others collecting stones in boxes.

At one point, a group of youths with at least one riot policeman among them dragged a protester by his legs for a long distance.

During the protest, led by several Coptic bishops, the demonstrators burnt photos of Mustafa al-Sayed, the governor of Aswan province where a church was destroyed.

The Coptic church in Merinab village was attacked after al-Seyyed was reported as saying Copts had built it without the required planning permission.

'Utter chaos'

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said "utter chaos" prevailed in the centre of the capital.

Rageh said: "It was supposed to be a peaceful protest, demanding that Coptic rights should be fulfilled. But it soon escalated into violence, with people on balconies pelting the demonstrators with stones, clearly disagreeing with the cause of the Coptic demonstrators."

The Christian protesters said their demonstration began as a peaceful attempt to sit in at the television building. But then, they said they came under attack by thugs in plainclothes who rained stones down on them and fired pellets.

"The protest was peaceful. We wanted to hold a sit-in, as usual," Essam Khalili, a protester wearing a white shirt with a cross drawn on it, said.

"Thugs attacked us and a military vehicle jumped over a sidewalk and ran over at least 10 people. I saw them."

Wael Roufail, another protester, corroborated the account.

"I saw the vehicle running over the protesters. Then they opened fired at us," he said.

Khalili said protesters set fire to army vehicles when they saw them hitting the protesters.

Television footage of the riots showed some of the Coptic protesters attacking a soldier, while a priest tried to protect him. One soldier collapsed in tears as ambulances rushed to the scene to take away the injured.

Military council blamed

Christians blame Egypt's ruling military council for being too lenient on those behind a spate of anti-Christian attacks since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February.

Egypt's Coptic Christian minority makes up about 10 per cent of the country of more than 80 million people.

As Egypt undergoes a chaotic power transition and security vacuum in the wake of this year's uprising, Christians are particularly worried about the increasing show of force by the conservatives.

Tensions are not uncommon between Copts and the country's majority Muslims. In March, 13 people were killed in sectarian clashes around the Cairo neighbourhood of Manshiyet Nasser, shortly after a church was torched in the village of Sol, south of the capital.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Egypt Feature: At Least 24 Die in Fighting over Christian March in Cairo | Main | Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: An Activist's Death Sparks Protests »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>