Calls for mass Egypt protest after sectarian violence

2011-05-11 09:33

Cairo – Egyptian pro-democracy activists have called for nationwide “unity” protests amid fears of widespread sectarian unrest following the latest clashes between Muslims and Christians.

Activists are calling on the country’s Christians and Muslims to come out on Friday to denounce sectarian divisions, after deadly clashes in Cairo on Saturday that left 12 people dead.

Calls for protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square – the symbolic heart of rallies that brought down president Hosni Mubarak in February – and across the country are circulating on social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

On Monday, authorities said they had captured the “mastermind” behind the clashes in Cairo’s northwest neighbourhood of Imbaba that killed at least six Muslims and four Christians and left a church ablaze.

Two bodies have not been identified.

The clashes in Imbaba kicked off after Muslims attacked the Coptic church of Saint Mena to free a Christian woman they alleged was being held against her will because she wanted to convert to Islam.

The military council governing Egypt and the media have blamed recurring sectarian violence on a “counter-revolution” by old regime diehards aimed at sowing chaos.

Copts, who account for up to 10% of the country’s 80 million people, complain of discrimination and have been the targets of fairly regular sectarian attacks.

Claims that Christian women who converted to Islam were kidnapped and held in churches or monasteries have soured relations between the two communities for months.

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