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Egyptian Government Compensates Christians for Property Damaged in Sectarian Attacks

ICC Note

After releasing the perpetrators of attacks against Christians and their properties, the Egyptian government compensates Christians whose properties were damaged by the attacks. Egyptian government must do more to protect its Christian citizens who face persecution from Islamic fundamentalists.

By Jeremy Reynalds

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 Egypt (ANS) — The government has compensated 17 Coptic Christians whose property was damaged last week by angry Muslims.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that the incident occurred in a southern Egyptian town recently rife with sectarian conflict.

The AP story said that authorities distributed 1,265,000 Egyptian pounds (US$230,000) to 17 owners of cars and shops that were damaged in the town of Isna . This followed reports that two Coptic Christians pulled down the veil of a Muslim woman in a car park, said Magdy Ayoub, the governor of the surrounding Qena province.

The AP said that police detained 15 people suspected of taking part in the attacks, but many, if not all, of them were subsequently released.

Earlier this month, the AP reported, dozens of Muslims went on a rampage in Isna, located about 350 miles south of Cairo, following rumors that Coptic Christians attempted to abduct and sexually assault a teenage Muslim girl. The rioters hurled stones and smashed windows of a pharmacy, where they suspected the Copts forced the girl to have sex with them.

The AP said that police later arrested two Coptic Christians suspected of taking part in the girl’s abduction. They were ordered detained for 15 days on charges related to sectarian tensions.

The AP reported that Governor Ayoub said prominent Muslim and Christian figures in Isna plan to meet Wednesday in an attempt to reconcile the recent sectarian tension.

The AP noted that Muslim-Coptic tensions are commonplace in southern Egypt , mainly over land or church construction disputes.

On New Year’s Day in 2000, the AP reported, a dispute between Muslims and Copts in the village of Kosheh , 240 miles south of the capital Cairo , escalated into a clash with groups of armed villagers shooting at each other, leaving 21 Christians and one Muslim dead.

Coptic Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Egypt ‘s 76.5 million people, and usually live in peace with the Muslim majority. The AP said the government is very sensitive to public discussions of its treatment of the Coptic minority, insisting that Christians enjoy the same rights as the Muslim majority.