07/28/2011, 00.00
EGYPT
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Minya: young pregnant Coptic woman attacked by a Muslim man over Coptic church bell

The wounding of the woman led to a clash between Christians and Muslims in the small village of Ezbet Jacob Bebawi that left six people injured. The attacker was opposed to the new bell in the local Coptic church. A source talks to AsiaNews about the lack of police presence and anti-Christian violence after Mubarak’s fall.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – More clashes between Christians and Muslims in Minya (Upper Egypt). On Monday, Ezbet Jacob Bebawi, a small village just outside the city of Samalout, saw a group of Muslims attack with iron rods and farm implements a group of Copts who had come to the rescue of a pregnant Coptic woman who was being beaten by a young Muslim.

Security forces brought the clash to an end but not before people were injured. However, they arrested only Christians in connection with the event, including the husband of the woman, the latter for weapon possession.

According to Fr Estephanos Shehata, of the Samalout Coptic diocese, "The real reason behind this assault was the church bell, which has greatly angered the Muslims in the village."

The clergyman explained that most residents of the village are Christian, and that until recently, there were no problems with local Muslims.

Christian villagers believe the assault was premeditated, noting that the village has a very weak presence of security forces.

At present, they fear another attack, especially since Muslims have been slowly congregating in the village.

Following the fall of Mubarak, Christian communities in Upper Egypt and regions far from the capital have been the victims of Muslim attacks.

A source told AsiaNews that the situation is due to poor security and police indifference. Muslim culture and illiteracy also play a fundamental role, which increases the chances that both sides will act on rumours.

“Sectarian diatribes and clashes have always been commonplace in Upper Egypt,” the source said. “In our country, 45 per cent of the people are illiterate. People are influenced by imams and Muslim extremists and do not act rationally but by instinct. In this climate of widespread impunity, violence has increased, sometimes for futile reasons, which often lead to religious conflicts.”

As long as the constitution is not changed, Christians will be in danger in Egypt, the source said. “Democracy is still far despite the winds of change brought by the Jasmine Revolution. Secular-oriented people are still a minority”.

The young Christians and Muslims who played such a large role in the protests in Tahrir Square must enter in politics and work to ensure that the Arab spring does not turn into hell. (S.C.)
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