CAIRO: Sunday night saw clashes between Muslims and Copts in Ein Shams, resulting in the injury of over 50 people, including riot police, and the arrest of 35 others.
Eye witnesses informed Daily News Egypt that following prayers in a mosque across the church, a large group of Muslims gathered outside the church chanting slogans after which, witnesses allege, clashes erupted.
Police then used tear gas to disperse the crowds and cordoned off the area.
Tension initially mounted as Copts conducted their first prayer in a church whose construction is not officially licensed, Muslim residents allege.
Other reports claim that the clashes were instigated by rumors that some Copts were planning on turning a house under construction into a church.
Of the 35 arrested, police charged eight – three of which are Copts – with gathering and rioting. The rest were released.
Head of the press office at the Orthodox Church told Daily News Egypt that prayer will be halted in the church in question until the situation becomes stable, adding that they are preparing a detailed report on the incident.
Human rights organizations called for drafting a consolidated construction law for places of worship, to put an end to dilemma surrounding the construction of churches.