Death of a Muslim in fighting in Alexandria and fears of renewed clashes
Abdel Moaz Mohamed
An Egyptian Muslim citizen died on Sunday of wounds sustained during clashes between Muslims and Copts during the funeral of a Copt killed in an attack on three churches in Alexandria on Friday.
Ikhwanonline’s correspondent said the Muslim who died today lived next to Al-Qidiseen Church in the neighborhood of Sidi Bishr, which recently saw unfortunate events, and his death was the result of a Coptic woman throwing a stone at his head, which led to a serious and fatal injury.
The correspondent added that there is a case of motivation and willingness for the prevalence of friction in circles of the Copts, where a large number of Copts came out of the church on Street 45 in the neighborhood of Al-Asafra on Sunday, carrying swords, knives, switchblades, and sticks, and they beat a news agency photographer.
He added that a state of pandemonium would have prevailed in the area if it were not for security personnel. Skirmishes took place between a number of Copts and police as Copts chanted slogans such as, “with our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Christ.” But after negotiations that lasted for more than three hours, security leaders managed to convince the clergy of the church to calm down the rebels.
Clashes broke out between Coptic demonstrators and Muslims at the funeral of the slain Copt who died in Friday’s attacks, and mourners from the funeral of the Copts say a barrage of stones rained on them from balconies during the funeral.
A Muslim store worker today told Al-Jazeera that some Copts assaulted the store where he works using a cross, and other eyewitnesses mentioned that Coptic demonstrators entered the church in Alexandria chanting slogans against Muslims and the Egyptian regime.
The clashes in which security forces intervened injured 22 people, including three security officers, seven Copts, and 11 Muslims, as well as the Muslim who died today from his wounds.
The tensions began when a mentally ill man, according to the statement from the Ministry of Interior, named Mahmoud Salah Eddin attacked three churches using a sword and sharp objects last Friday, killing one Copt and injuring six others in an attack that has been met with several condemnations from internal and external forces, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
However the Coptic Church and numerous Copts rejected the official version that came from the Ministry of Interior, which held the mentally ill man responsible for the attacks in the three churches that resulted in a death and several wounded.
During the previous two days, Alexandria was the scene of numerous escalating events and peaked yesterday, Saturday 15/4/2006, and with the funeral of Noshy Atta Guirguis, at a time in which a number of demonstrators attacked passersby and buildings, and imams in Alexandria called for calm on loudspeakers.
Witnesses said that the funeral procession, which was going from Al-Qidiseen Church to the cemetery, threw stones at buildings on a street adjacent to the church, while clashes with sticks between Muslims and Copts and a car was burned, and the immediate intervention of security personnel divided the funeral procession into two in order to surround the demonstrators involved in the clashes.
The skirmishes between the two sides began to intensifty after it appeared that some youth were throwing a barrage of stones at the demonstrators, and violent anti-Muslim and anti-government slogans were heard coming from inside the church.