11/25/2010, 00.00
EGYPT

Two Copts killed in the battle for the "church of the Pyramids"

Thousands of Christian protesters surrounded the governorate in Giza to protest against the blockade of the construction of the only church in the area. Strong reaction of the security forces. Fundamentalist Muslims are opposed to the churches’ completion and put pressure on local authorities.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Two young Copts were killed in demonstrations related to the attempt by Islamic radicals to prevent the construction of a church in Talbiya, Giza, in the area of the Pyramids. Those wounded in the strong reaction of the security forces, are at least fifty said Abdel Meguid Mahmud Attorney General, of which seven officers and 11 police officers. One hundred people were arrested. The clashes occurred when some two thousand Coptic protesters surrounded the headquarters of the governorate of Giza, accused of using various pretexts to prevent the conclusion of a Coptic church, opposed by Muslim fundamentalists.

The authorities have deployed thousands of agents in the Giza and Omraniya area to prevent further unrest, that come on the eve of national elections. Yesterday's protest was the result of the authorities' decision to stop work on the church. Since the beginning of November, local authorities have employed various legal pretexts to prevent the completion of the dome. The latest reason given is that permits for construction referred to a social center, not a church.

There are over one million Copts in the region of Talbiya, and they do not have a church. They are forced to travel several kilometers to attend religious services. Local Coptic authorities protest that mosques are built without any problems. Instead obstacles and difficulties are never-ending in the case of churches. A government report says that there are 93thousand mosques in Egypt, against two thousand churches. Copts make up about 10 percent of the Egyptian population, and complain of being discriminated against and treated unfairly. In recent days, arson attacks on the homes of Copts in southern Egypt at the hands of a mob of Muslim fundamentalists was defined as a "chance act" in the investigation proceedings.

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