More than 1,000 Muslims protested angrily outside a Coptic Christian church in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria
late Friday, charging that a drama that was presented in the church was offensive to Islam.
City authorities dispatched about 200 police to St. Gergis church in a poor Alexandria neighborhood to keep the demonstrators from entering and disrupting the play.
The production features a poor Christian university student who converts to Islam when a group of Muslim men promise him much-needed money. When he becomes disenchanted with his decision, the men threaten him with physical violence to prevent him from returning to his original faith.
The play and the protest reflect the charged atmosphere between Muslims and Christians in Egypt
, where accusations of forced conversions are routine.
In December, angry Copts protested in Cairo
for four days and clashed with police when the wife of a priest fled her home in the south to convert to Islam. She later returned home and resumed practicing Christianity.