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Egyptian prosecutor releases 7 Muslims arrested in attacks on Coptic Christian property

ICC Note

Egyptian authorities released seven main suspects of attacks against Christians. The Egyptian authorities seem to be encouraging further attacks against Christians by releasing the main suspects.

December 18, 2007 Egypt (International Herald Tribune)-Seven Muslims were ordered released Tuesday, two days after their arrest in attacks on shops owned by Coptic Christians in a southern Egyptian town that has recently witnessed increasing sectarian tensions, an official with the prosecutors office said.

The attackers had hurled stones and set fire to several shops, smashed windows of a Coptic church and damaged two cars in the early morning hours Sunday in Isna, about 560 kilometers (350 miles) south of Cairo.

Police detained 15 people suspected of taking part in the attacks. The seven released were believed to be the main suspects, the official from the prosecutors’ office said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The grounds for the release of the seven, the fate of the remaining detainees or what this meant for the investigation was not immediately clear.

Sunday’s rioting followed reports that two Coptic Christians pulled down the veil of a Muslim woman in a car park the previous evening. Dozens of Muslims started gathering for the protest early Sunday.

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