Egyptian Copts and Muslims clash again, in central Cairo
(Reuters) – One person was killed and more than 80 were wounded in clashes at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in central Cairo on Sunday after a funeral service for four Egyptian Christians killed in sectarian violence with Muslims, state media said.
Christian-Muslim confrontations have increased in Muslim-majority Egypt since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 gave freer rein to hardline Islamists repressed under his autocratic rule.
The state news agency MENA said 84 people had been injured in fighting after a ceremony at the cathedral, which was showered for hours with stones, petrol bombs and bird-shot.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds but clashes continued late into the evening.
In some of the worst sectarian violence for months on Friday, four Christians and one Muslim were killed in El Khusus, north of Cairo, when members of both communities started shooting at each other.
Fresh clashes erupted on Sunday when hundreds of angry Copts came to the funeral service at St. Mark’s Cathedral, chanting “With our blood and soul we will sacrifice ourselves for the cross”. Some also shouted slogans during the ceremony denouncing President Mohamed Mursi for failing to protect Christians.
Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, condemned the violence, telling Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II in a telephone call that any attack on the cathedral “is like an attack on me personally”, MENA reported.
After an emotional church service, where relatives of the dead wept, young Christians chanted anti-government slogans and started hurling rocks at police officers outside the cathedral, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.