Attacks on a mosque and continuing clashes in Alexandria
Clashes between Copts and some Muslims intensified in the governorate of Alexandria (north of Cairo), against the backdrop of the killing of one Copt and injury of many others after a mentally ill man attacked them last Friday.
Copts organised a large march during the burial of the deceased Copt and chanted religious slogans that provoked a number of Muslims. This intensified the crisis in the midst of the complete failure of security forces to control the situation.
The confrontations, during which anger mixed with other matters, resulted in an attack on the El-Wahed El-Ahad Mosque during which Coptic protesters threw rocks at it, leading to damage to many parts of it. They also threw Molotov cocktails at it and a number of Copts set fire to a large number of cars. Before midnight a jeweller’s was attacked and the perpetrator of this attack is still unknown.
The confrontations resulted in a many injuries to policemen who Copts threw stones and Molotov cocktails at.
In the two days leading up to this Alexandria had witnessed a number of escalating events that reached their peak on the morning of Saturday 15/4/2006 during the funeral of Noshy Attalah Gerges when a number of protesters attacked passersby and installations leading to a number of mosque imams in Alexandria to call for calm over microphones.
Eyewitnesses said that stones were thrown at the funeral procession going from the El-Qedeseen Church to the graveyard from buildings in the street near the Church while there were clashes with sticks between Muslims and Copts in the street. A car was torched and security forces intervened immediately and divided the funeral procession into two parts in order to surround the protesters taking part in the clashes.
Scuffles between the two sides gradually increased after some young people threw a hail of stones at protesters. Fierce chanting against Muslims, the government and Mubarak were heard coming from inside the churches.
The Coptic Church and many Copts rejected the official version of events given by the Interior Ministry and which held a mentally ill man responsible for the attacks against three churches and results in one death and numerous injuries.
For his part, Dr Mohamed Selim El-Awa, Secretary General of International Union of Muslim Scholars condemned these attacks and expressed his condolences and sympathy to the victims’ families, and warned against being dragged into sectarian strife that will only benefit Egypt’s enemies. El-Awa called on the government to work towards preventing the repetition of such attacks.
The United States of America condemned the attacks on the Coptic Churches in Alexandria. Washington urged both Copts and Muslims in Alexandria to show understanding and calm.
The State Department spokesman Shawn Mccormick said, this type of act is unacceptable. We will call on the Egyptian government to continue its efforts to defuse the situation and provide effective security to all places of worship and invite people of all religious creeds to refrain from more acts of violence and incitements.