Let us offer our sacrifices during this Lenten season for all persecuted Christians in the Middle East, in Communist China and in places where political and social conflicts are intense. Pray for our persecutors that they may know we are followers of Christ. - CD2000
Cairo Muslims, Christians clash during church protest
CAIRO (Reuters) - About 1,300 Christians and Muslims threw stones and Molotov cocktails at each other on Tuesday during a protest over the burning of a church, an Egyptian security source said.
Christians were protesting for the second day over a church in Helwan on the outskirts of Cairo that was set on fire after a row sparked by a relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman, witnesses and a security source said.
About 20 people were injured in the latest sectarian flare-up, and five cars were burned during the clash between the groups, estimated at a total of 1,300 people, the source said.
The fighting erupted up when a group of Christians blocked a main highway and clashed with Muslims who wanted to pass through, a security source said.
"They began fighting because people in their cars wanted to pass through and the protesters had blocked the highway," the security source said.
Witnesses said the army, which came to the scene, fired gunshots in the air during the skirmish to disperse the crowd but was unable to quell the fight.
Such inter-faith relationships often cause tensions in Muslim-majority Egypt, where Christians make up about 10 percent of the country's 80 million people.
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council that is governing the country after Hosni Mubarak quit, said the army would rebuild the church before Easter holidays.
Nearly 4000 Muslims Attack Christian Homes in Egypt, Torch Church
(AINA) -- A mob of nearly four thousand Muslims has attacked Coptic homes this evening in the village of Soul, Atfif in Helwan Governorate, 30 kilometers from Cairo, and torched the Church of St. Mina and St. George. There are conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the Church pastor Father Yosha and three deacons who were at church; some say they died in the fire and some say they are being held captive by the Muslims inside the church.
Witnesses report the mob prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. The army, which has been stationed for the last two days in the village of Bromil, 7 kilometers from Soul, initially refused to go into Soul, according to the officer in charge. When the army finally sent three tanks to the village, Muslim elders sent them away, saying that everything was "in order now."
A curfew has been imposed on the 12,000 Christians in the village.
This incident was triggered by a relationship between 40-year-old Copt Ashraf Iskander and a Muslim woman. Yesterday a "reconciliation" meeting was arranged between the relevant Coptic and Muslim families and together with the Muslim elders it was decided that Ashraf Iskander would have to leave the village because Muslims torched his house.
The father of the Muslim woman was killed by his cousin because he did not kill his daughter to preserve the family's honor, which led the woman's brother to avenge the death of his father by killing the cousin. The village Muslims blamed the Christians.
The Muslim mob attacked the church, exploding 5-6 gas cylinders inside the church, pulled down the cross and the domes and burnt everything inside. Activist Ramy Kamel of Katibatibia Coptic advocacy called US-based Coptic Hope Sat TV and sent an SOS on behalf of the Copts in Soul village, as they are presently being attacked by the mob. He also said that no one is able to contact the priest and the deacons inside the burning church and there is no answer from their mobile phones.
Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub reported the mob has broken into Coptic homes and has called on Copts to leave the village. "Terrorized Copts have fled and some hid in homes of Muslim neighbors," he added.
Witnesses said the mob chanted "Allahu Akbar" and vowed to conduct their morning prayers on the church plot after razing it.