Arab Spring = Christian Persecution

Posted: October 10, 2011 in Christian persecution, International Oppression

Dozens arrested after Egypt’s deadly clashes

MICHAEL – Associated Press
| AP

CAIRO (AP) — Dozens of “instigators of chaos” have been arrested
after deadly clashes between angry Christians, Muslims and security forces
that left 24 dead and at least 200 wounded, Egypt’s official news agency reported
on Monday.

Sunday’s clashes, sparked by a recent
attack on a church in southern Egypt, were the worst sectarian violence since
the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February.

The MENA news agency did not say whether
those arrested were Christians or Muslims.

Egypt’s state television said authorities
have stepped up security at vital installations in anticipation of renewed
unrest, deploying additional troops outside parliament and the Cabinet.

The rioting in downtown Cairo had lasted
until late into the night, bringing out a deployment of more than 1,000
security forces and armored vehicles to defend the Nile-side state television
building, where the trouble began.

The clashes spread from outside the TV
building to nearby Tahrir Square, drawing thousands of people to the vast plaza
that served as the epicenter of the protests that ousted Mubarak. On Sunday
night, they battled each other with rocks and firebombs, some tearing up
pavement for ammunition and others collecting stones in boxes.

At one point, an armored security van sped
into the crowd, striking a half-dozen protesters and throwing some into the
air. Protesters retaliated by setting fire to military vehicles, a bus and
private cars, sending flames rising into the night sky.

After midnight, mobs roamed downtown streets, attacking cars they suspected
had Christian passengers. In many areas, there was no visible police or army
presence to confront or stop them.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent
of Egypt’s 80 million people, blame the country’s ruling military council for
being too lenient on those behind a spate of anti-Christian attacks since
Mubarak’s ouster. As Egypt undergoes a chaotic power transition and security
vacuum in the wake of the uprising, the Coptic Christian minority is
particularly worried about the show of force by ultraconservative Islamists.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, addressing the nation in a televised speech,
said the violence threatened to throw Egypt’s post-Mubarak transition off

“These events have taken us back
several steps,” he said. “Instead of moving forward to build a modern
state on democratic principles we are back to seeking stability and searching
for hidden hands — domestic and foreign — that meddle with the country’s
security and safety.”

“I call on Egyptian people, Muslims and Christians, women and children,
young men and elders to hold their unity,” Sharaf said.

The Christian protesters said their
demonstration began as a peaceful attempt to sit in at the television building.
But then, they said, they came under attack by thugs in plainclothes who rained
stones down on them and fired pellets.

“The protest was peaceful. We wanted
to hold a sit-in, as usual,” said Essam Khalili, a protester wearing a
white shirt with a cross on it. “Thugs attacked us and a military vehicle
jumped over a sidewalk and ran over at least 10 people. I saw them.”

Khalili said protesters set fire to army vehicles when they saw them hitting
the protesters.

Ahmed Yahia, a Muslim resident who lives
near the TV building, said he saw the military vehicle plow into protesters.
“I saw a man’s head split into two halves and a second body flattened when
the armored vehicle ran over it. When some Muslims saw the blood they joined
the Christians against the army,” he said.

Television footage showed the military vehicle slamming into the crowd.
Coptic protesters were shown attacking a soldier, while a priest tried to
protect him.

At least 24 people were killed in the clashes, Health Ministry official
Hisham Sheiha said on state TV.

State media reported that Egypt’s interim Cabinet was holding an emergency
session to discuss the situation.

In the past weeks, riots have broken out at two churches in southern Egypt,
prompted by Muslim crowds angry over church construction. One riot broke out
near the city of Aswan, even after church officials agreed to a demand by
ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis that a cross and bells be removed
from the building.

Aswan’s governor, Gen. Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyed, further raised tensions by
suggesting to the media that the church construction was illegal.

Protesters said the Copts are demanding
the ouster of the governor, reconstruction of the church, compensation for
people whose houses were set on fire and prosecution of those behind the riots
and attacks on the church.

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