Sectarian tension in Minya has tens arrested

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MINYA: Hundreds of Egyptian Muslims tried Friday to set on fire the home of a Coptic Christian in southern Egypt after he announced plans to turn it into a church, a security official said.

The Christian had angered Muslims in the village of Hawasliya, near the southern town of Minya, earlier this week by saying he would turn his four-storey house into a church, he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Residents complained to the authorities arguing that the Copt did not have the proper permit to carry out the transformation and their anger boiled over after Friday weekly Muslim prayers, the official added.

Emerging from mosques, around 500 Muslims gathered near the house to try to set it ablaze but the police prevented it.

The protesters managed nevertheless to set fire to nearby stables owned by Christians, killing six animals, including cows and sheep, the official said.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds and detained 20 protesters, he added.

Egypt s Copts – the largest Christian community in the Middle East – account for an estimated six to 10 percent of the country s 80 million inhabitants.

In June, 18 people were wounded when clashes broke out between Muslims and Christians in a village south of Cairo after a Coptic priest celebrated mass at his home. Another 35 people were arrested. -AFP

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