03/10/2011, 00.00
EGYPT
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Cairo, Al-Azhar condemns violence against Christians

The death toll rises to 13 from clashes between Copts and Muslims in recent days in Cairo, after the burning of a church. The violence has mainly involved the landfill district of Mansheya.

 Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Grand Imam from the Islamic University of Al - Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyib, condemns the attack on the Coptic Church of Soul, which took place on 5 March. In a press release, the Islamic leader has called the action a "distortion of Islam" and called on the Muslim community to rebuild the village church to defuse the climate of tension and violence between Copts and Muslims.

After the fire of the Coptic Church of St. Mina and St. George in Soul (30 km from Cairo) Copts, Muslims and pro-democracy activists returned to the streets of the capital in protest. From March 6 thousands of Christians, supported by many Muslims, have protested outside the headquarters of the Egyptian TV, asking for the reconstruction of the building. Demonstrations have also taken place in Tahrir Square.

The absence of police, however, has allowed radical Islamic leaders and pro-Mubarak supporters to take advantage of the chaos. The most violent clashes between Christians and Muslims have been reported in the Mansheya landfill district in the Moqattam hills, populated by the so-called "garbage men" (zabbalin). Violence was recorded in Tahrir Square, where pro-democracy demonstrators were attacked by men armed with knives and sticks. To date, the toll is of 13 dead and over 140 wounded. Local sources allege that the army fired on demonstrators and even suspect that the military fomented the clashes.

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