Egypt: Muslims, Christians detained over sectarian clashes

By
September 23, 2007 09:27

The cause of the clashes was not clear. Witnesses gave different accounts over who triggered the fights in Sedi Bishr district of Alexandria.

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Egypt: Muslims, Christians detained over sectarian clashes

egypt 88. (photo credit: )

Prosecutors questioned about 30 Muslims and Christians on Saturday over violent clashes that erupted in a densely populated district in this Mediterranean city the previous night, police and witnesses said. Six Muslims and three Christians were injured, and about nine cars were destroyed in the clashes before security forces were deployed to the area, a police official said speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the press. The cause of the clashes was not clear. Witnesses gave different accounts over who triggered the fights in Sedi Bishr district of Alexandria on Friday night. One witness, a bicycle repairman, said a young Christian man was seen accompanying a Muslim woman to a residential building when a few young Muslims saw him and started intimidating him. The confrontation escalated when a group of Muslims started hurling stones at the Christian man, said the witness, who did not want to give his name because he feared his personal safety. Another witness said the Muslims were trying to force the Christian to buy drugs, but the Christian refused. The Christian man then rallied his relatives who attacked the Muslims with broken glass bottles, said this witness, who also did not want to give his name out of concerns for his safety. About 30 Muslims and Christians were rounded up and detained on charges ranging from inciting public damage, gathering illegally and using sharp objects illegally, the police official said. Egypt is a majority Muslim country but has a large Christian community estimated at about 10 percent of its 76 million people. Tensions have run high in recent years, with sectarian clashes erupting in Alexandria and small villages in southern Egypt.


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