Two Coptic Christian boys have been put in juvenile detention after locals accused them of urinating on pages of the Islamic holy book, an Islamic cleric and prosecutors said Wednesday, in the latest in a series of legal cases in Egypt against alleged contempt of religion.
Accusations of insulting Islam have increased in Egypt – particularly against Christians – since last month's fury over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States. Such cases occurred in the past, but the flurry to prosecute in recent weeks has raised concerns over freedom of speech and over the power of ultraconservative Islamists in the country.
The new case is a rare instance of minors being accused. The boys, ages 9 and 10, were detained Tuesday in a southern town, to be held for 15 days while prosecutors investigate the accusations.
The Coptic Orthodox Church held a liturgy on Wednesday at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abbaseya. The service commemorated the protesters who died almost a year ago on 9 October 2011 and marked the next phase of the selection of a new pope.
Banners with photos of the dead protesters were suspended over the entrance of the cathedral as grief-stricken family members, dressed in black, and other Christians filed in to take part in the liturgy attended by many high ranking church officials and headed by Metropolitan Pachomius of Beheira, the Church’s interim leader.
Armed with heavy weapons from Libya and elsewhere, militants have set up shop in the Sinai Peninsula.
It was just before dawn on Sept. 16 when Mahmoud heard the unmistakable roar of a helicopter gunship.
From his roof, he watched as the Egyptian army launched a full-scale assault on a cluster of reed homes nearby. He then watched with surprise as the extremists fought back with exceptional firepower.
The fighters, reportedly from the Sinai-based Al Salafiya Al Jihadiya Movement (Salafi Jihadi Movement), chased the army’s armored convoy out of the area using anti-aircraft guns mounted on Toyota 4x4s, according to Mahmoud and other locals.
Coptic Christians were warned it they protested against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi during his visit to the U.S., they would suffer, reports from Egypt said.
The speech is over, but the retaliation is happening anyway.
Egyptian human rights activist and journalist Wagih Yacoub says protests or not, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is acting on those threats.
"We've seen it today. People are going to the Sinai, shooting at Christian's shops. They're telling the people to leave their homes," Yacoub said. "It's especially because they are Christians."
ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) - Most Christians living near Egypt's border with Israel are fleeing their homes after Islamist militants made death threats and gunmen attacked a Coptic-owned shop, a priest said on Friday.
The departure of nine families that made up the small Christian community in the border area of Egypt's Sinai peninsula will fuel worries about religious tolerance and the rise of militancy after the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak last year.
"Coptic Christian families decided to leave ... out of fear for their lives after the threats and the armed attack," said Mikhail Antwan, priest at the Coptic Margirgis church in the North Sinai town of al-Arish.
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