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Angry Muslims Attack Stores Owned by Christians

ICC Note

“The seven were also demonstrating outside the police station. Then they left the protest and started setting fire to property owned by Christians,”

By Jeremy Reynalds

Sunday, December 16, 2007 Egypt (ANS) — Seven Muslims were detained in southern Egypt on Sunday after setting fire to a church, and stores owned by Christians.

The violence was in retaliation for the alleged rape of a Muslim girl, a security source told AFP News.

According to AFP, the seven individuals set fire to 13 stores owned by Egyptian Christians in the southern city of Isna late on Saturday. They also threw Molotov cocktails at a local church, AFP reported the source told the news service.

They told police they were acting in retaliation for the alleged rape last week of a Muslim girl by three Christian boys.

AFP reported the three Christians were detained on Saturday and taken to a police station, where an angry crowd of about 150 Muslims hurled stones and bottles.

“The seven were also demonstrating outside the police station. Then they left the protest and started setting fire to property owned by Christians,” the source told AFP.

AFP said that tensions often run high between Egypt ‘s Muslim and Christian communities in an increasingly religious society that is dominated by Sunni Muslims.

Reuters reported that Egypt suffered its worst Christian-Muslim clashes in decades in 1999 in southern Egypt , when 20 Christians were killed, 22 people wounded and scores of stores destroyed.

According to Reuters, last year a 45-year-old Muslim man stabbed a Coptic Christian man to death and wounded five others in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria , sparking three days of sectarian clashes in which one Muslim was killed. Egypt said the attacker was mentally ill.

AFP said that Egypt ‘s Copts — the largest Christian community in the Middle East — account for an estimated six to 10 percent of the country’s 76 million inhabitants, and complain of systematic discrimination and harassment.