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Minya Diocese recounts Saturday’s sectarian clashes

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Maspero Youth Union blames Morsi supporters for the clashes caused by a pro-army song

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday that the Egyptian Consulate in Benghazi, Libya secured the release of 20 Egyptian Copts from Libyan authorities. (AFP Photo)

Following iftar, two Muslim youths clashed with a group of Copts.
(AFP File Photo)

The Diocese of Minya and Abu Qurqas released a statement on Sunday on the clashes that took place Saturday night in Bani Ahmed village in the Minya governorate in Upper Egypt.

The statement said the clashes started as a verbal dispute between a Muslim and a Copt that residents resolved. Following iftar, two Muslim youths clashed with a group of Copts.

The fight grew and residents of nearby villages arrived on the scene carrying molotov cocktails and weapons, chanting slogans against Copts, armed forces and the police.

“Violence broke out at 8pm and a small security force arrived outside the village at 10pm, but they were unable to enter the village before 11.30pm, the statement read.

The Diocese added that youth from western Bani Ahmed village tried to enter the village where the clashes was taking place but were stopped by security. They attacked the security forces injuring an officer and six personnel.

The clashes led to sabotage at several buildings, houses, pharmacies and shops. Some people tried to break in a church but a group of residents prevented them. However, on Sunday people gathered in front of the church holding sticks to prevent Copts from attending the mass.

In nearby Reeda village, a rumor that Copts attacked a mosque fuelled anger and led to the random  firing of live bullets in the village, breaking windows of Copts houses and pelting of the church with stones.

“A small security force also arrived late and left after a Muslim figure in the village promised to end the clashes and restore calm.  But, after security left, the attacks continued, the statement read.

Maspero Youth Coalition also released a statement on Monday condemning the attacks and blaming supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi for the clashes.

They stated that extremist Islamist and Morsi supporters were insisting on punishing Copts for removing Morsi, despite the fact that he was removed by a popular uprising.

“The attacks now target the lives and properties of Copts amid an unjustified security failure,” the statement read.

Maspero Youth said the clashes started because of a song that praises the army which angered Morsi supporters.

The Coalition demanded drafting a law on violence against Copts, arresting those who committed or incited violent acts, compensating Copts for their losses and investigating security officials who failed to stop the clashes.

They also demanded a stronger role for Al-Azhar and Beit Al-Eila (a council of Muslim and Coptic figures) and the ministry of endowments that should take over mosques currently controlled by extremists.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior Hany Abdel Latif said the situation now was under control and the ministry was waiting for updates on the situation from security officials in Minya.


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