Egyptian funeral ends in violence
Published: Sunday, April 7, 2013, 6:24 p.m.
CAIRO — One person was killed and more than 80 were injured in clashes at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in central Cairo on Sunday after a funeral service for four Egyptian Christians killed in sectarian violence with Muslims, state media said.
Christian-Muslim confrontations have increased in Muslim-majority Egypt since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 gave freer rein to hard-line Islamists repressed under his autocratic rule.
The state news agency MENA said 84 people had been injured in fighting after a ceremony in the cathedral, which was showered for hours with stones, gas bombs and birdshot.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds, but clashes continued late into the evening.
In some of the worst sectarian violence for months on Friday, four Christians and one Muslim were killed in El Khusus, north of Cairo, when members of both communities started shooting at each other.
Fresh clashes erupted on Sunday when hundreds of angry Copts came to the funeral service in St. Mark's Cathedral, chanting, “With our blood and soul we will sacrifice ourselves for the cross.” Some also shouted slogans during the ceremony denouncing President Mohamed Morsy for failing to protect Christians.
Morsy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, condemned the violence, telling Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II in a telephone call that any attack on the cathedral “is like an attack on me personally,” MENA reported.
After an emotional church service in which relatives of the dead wept, young Christians chanted anti-government slogans and started hurling rocks at police officers outside the cathedral, a Reuters reporter said.
Some protesters, believed to be Copts, smashed six private cars and set two on fire, prompting an angry reaction from Muslims living in the neighborhood, who threw homemade petrol bombs and stones at them, a witness said.
“The Christians chanted slogans provoking the residents,” said Ahmed Mahmoud, a Muslim resident. “Then the clashes started; they threw stones at each other, and they (Christians) lit up a fire, and they shot at us with cartridge (birdshot) guns.”
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