CAIRO: Egypt stepped up security around churches in Cairo Monday after two days of clashes between minority Christians and Muslims that killed 12 people and highlighted rising inter-faith tensions.
The violence that left a church wrecked by fire and more than 238 people wounded at the weekend was triggered by rumors that Christians had abducted a woman who embraced Islam. The media Monday slammed what it said were “anti-revolutionaries” trying to trigger sectarian violence, which Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei labelled “religious extremism of the Middle Ages.”
The clashes pose a challenge for Egypt’s new military rulers, under pressure to impose security and revive the ailing economy while seeking to avoid the tough security tactics against Islamists used by Hosni Mubarak.
A tight security cordon restricted access around Saint Mina Church in Imbaba, the Cairo district where the clashes erupted Saturday evening and extended into Sunday. Another church, Saint Mary’s, was burned.