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Friday, May 20, 2011

Muslim-Christian clashes erupt at Egyptian church

Muslims and Christians pelted each with stones in a Cairo suburb Thursday over the reopening of a church the former regime closed years ago.

The church is one of three to be reopened as part of the Egyptian authorities' plan to try to defuse recent religious tensions. They have promised to reopen nearly 50 churches across Egypt in an attempt to appease Christian protesters who have been holding a sit-in for more than a week along the Nile.

The protesters are also demanding the prosecution of those behind recent attacks on at least three churches in Cairo following the popular uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11.
Thursday's clashes began when police accompanied a group of Christians to reopen the Church of the Virgin in the suburb of Ain Shams. More than 1,000 Muslims, including dozens of ultraconservative Salafi Muslims, tried to block the way, and the sides pelted each other with stones, a security official said.

Police detained a number of those involved and the scuffle was quickly contained, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. No injuries were reported.

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