Church: Six killed in sectarian clashes in Egypt

March 9, 2011

From Nima Elbagir, CNN

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — Six people were killed in clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims in the Egyptian capital, a Coptic Church spokesman said Wednesday.

The clashes broke out Tuesday after Copts took to the streets to protest last week’s burning of a church.

All the victims were Christians, said church spokesman Father Abdelmaseeh Baseet.

The country’s health ministry said the figure is lower, but did not offer one. The interior ministry said it was unaware of the incident.

A feud between a Muslim and a Coptic family led to the church burning in Helwan province last week.

In recent weeks, tensions have been high between Egypt’s Muslim majority and its Coptic minority.

A Coptic Church in the town of Alexandria was bombed on New Year’s Day, killing 23 people. The Palestinian Islamic Army, which has links to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest attack on Christians in Egypt in some time — but far from the only one.

Ten days later, a gunman killed a Christian man and wounded five other Christians on a train in Egypt.

Also in January, a man was sentenced for his part in an attack on another Coptic church a year ago, Egypt’s state-run Al Ahram newspaper reported.

About 9% of Egypt’s 80 million residents are Coptic Christians. They base their theology on the teachings of the Apostle Mark, who introduced Christianity to Egypt, according to St. Takla Church in Alexandria, the capital of Coptic Christianity.

The religion split with other Christians in the fifth century over the definition of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

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