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Egypt: 8 arrested in clashes between Muslims and Copts

Egyptian Coptic Christian protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against assault on churches, 21 May 2020 [Tarek Al-Gabas/ApaImages]
Egyptian Coptic Christian protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against assault on churches, 15 April 2016 [Tarek Al-Gabas/ApaImages]

Egyptian authorities have arrested eight people following clashes that erupted on Wednesday evening between Muslims and Coptic Christians in the Minya governorate, reported local and foreign media on Thursday.

The Egyptian authorities have not yet commented on the media reports.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on Thursday that the authorities in Egypt are detaining a number of people in a village in the Minya governorate following clashes between Muslims and Copts.

Cairo 24 quoted a security source stating that the Central Security Forces of the Ministry of the Interior intervened to control the situation in the village of Deir El-Bersha.

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The news website added that eight people from the village were arrested for rioting and assault.

Al-Hurra channel reported eyewitnesses disclosing that on Wednesday the security forces contained the clashes in the village, during which Muslim and Coptic villagers assaulted one another using Molotov cocktails.

The media reports confirmed that the clashes erupted due to a Facebook post published by a young Coptic man from the village, which Muslim locals considered insulting to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The situation escalated into disputes between Muslims and Copts with stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown. Meanwhile, several other Muslim villagers beleaguered the Abu Siffin Church during a religious event, according to witnesses.

Social media users circulated photos and videos allegedly from the Minya confrontations. However, the authenticity of the publications was not verified.

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One of the video recordings showed a group of people chanting: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger," as they threw stones at a crowd of rioters gathering several metres away.

Periodically, tensions occur between Muslims and Copts in Egypt, yet the authorities usually indicate that such incidents are isolated and rare.

According to church estimates, the number of Christians in Egypt stands at approximately 15 million, out of a total population of over 104 million.

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