Hundreds of Egyptian Coptic Christians protest in Cairo

CAIRO, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — Hundreds of Egyptian Christian Copts staged a sit-in on the road in front of the state TV building in downtown Cairo on Tuesday evening, demanding Aswan provincial governor Moustafa el-Sayed step down and a church be rebuilt in Marinap village in Aswan province.

Copts rebuilt an old occasion building in the village and transferred it into a church with no official permission, angering the village’s Muslim residents who attempted to destroy the building. The incident caused new tension between the two religious groups.

A group of Muslims after finishing Friday prayers had moved to the church and started to demolish the whole building, but the security forces interfered and just a small wall and two cement pillars were destroyed.

Copts were angry about el-Sayed recent statements which said the number of Copts in the village is very few to build a church for them and there is another church two kilometers faraway, protestors said.

The protestors demanded Sayed be held accountable for his statements that will help stir sectarian clashes.

“We need our rights,” they chanted. “We need a decisive reaction from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) concerning several controversial issues, top of which is to put the same criteria for building religious houses,” one of the protestors said.

Walid Weisah, a 34-year-old protestor, told Xinhua that “it is an open sit-in until the church will be rebuilt”.

The roads leading to the TV Building were closed and surrounded by police security forces. But no clashes erupted.

Copts account for about one tenth of the total population of Egypt. There has been sporadic tension between Coptic Christians and Muslims over the building of churches or other affairs in the Muslim-dominated country.