Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Egypt's Christians protest New Year's Day church bombing

Despite calls for peace from the head of Egypt's Coptic Church, an estimated 500 Christian Egyptians took to the streets in the southern city of Assiut protesting the New Year's Day church bombing that killed as many as 23 churchgoers.

The mob gathered on Tuesday 4th January in front of the ruling party's headquarters protesting against the government's failure to safeguard them and vowing to protect their religion themselves with their “blood and souls”. The protesters attacked the police with rocks and debris, injuring 14. It is estimated that at least 10 protesters were also wounded during the clashes.

The bomb, which detonated in a car in front of the church on Saturday 1st January, contained nuts and bolts and was designed to cause a large-scale impact. It is believed that the attack was meant to incite further tensions between Egypt's Christians and Muslims.

Pope Shenouda III called on the government to offer Egypt's 8 million Christians, who make up 10 per cent of the country's population, greater protection and guard against religious discrimination. He also called on the country's Christians “for calm, as calm can solve all issues."

"The slogans used by some have transgressed all values and manners... and some have tried to use violence, while violence is absolutely not our method," he added.

The attack on the Christian church on Saturday was the worst against Egypt's Copts in more than a decade. No single group has claimed responsibly, but experts believe that it was carried out by domestic Islamic extremists with connections to the Al-Qa'ida.

Sources: Washington Post, CNN, BBC News

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

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