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Egypt sectarian clashes orchestrated, say witnesses

Egypt sectarian clashes orchestrated, say witnesses
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Several people are reported to have died in sectarian violence in Cairo on Saturday night.

Clashes broke out after a crowd of conservative Muslims marched on a Coptic Christian church in the Egyptian capital.

Another church nearby was set on fire.

State television put the figure at nine dead with more than 140 wounded.

Tension has risen since former President Mubarak was ousted from power in January.

“I think the attack was planned,” said one injured Christian. “They set fire to one church after another. For sure, it was planned.”

The Muslims targeted the church claiming a woman was being held against her will inside because she wanted to convert to Islam.

Others too believe events were orchestrated.

“This is the result of a lack of security, people linked to the previous regime want to create sectarian strife,” said eyewitness Essam Mohamed. “I want to say that nobody, Christian or Muslim, would dare to set fire to a church. It is the previous regime that’s responsible for this.”

Soldiers and police were deployed to separate the two sides. Salafists have been blamed although one activist has denied they were involved.

The violence is a direct challenge to Egypt’s military rulers in the run-up to planned elections.