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Funeral Attacked at Egypt's Biggest Church as Religious Violence Kills Six Copts

(UPDATED) President Morsi to Pope Tawadros: 'I consider any aggression against the cathedral an aggression against me personally.'

Update (April 9): Associated Press reports that Pope Tawadros II, the leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, has blasted president Mohamed Morsi for failing to protect Coptic Christians after an attack on St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo.

According to AP, Pope Tawadros II said "Morsi had promised him in a telephone conversation to do everything to protect the cathedral, ‘but in reality he [Morsi] did not. …We want action not words and, let me say this, there are many names and committees but there is no action on the ground.'"

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Update (April 8): CT's Cairo correspondent offers a thorough roundup at Arab West Report.

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A riot during a funeral for four Coptic Christians has ignited sectarian tensions in Cairo once again. A clash that killed four Christians in a northern suburb simmered over into the funeral at St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the capital city, killing two people and injuring at least 90.

The weekend, which left six people dead in three days, marks the worst violence against Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population, since the election of President Mohamed Morsi late last year.

The Associated Press reports that "the clashes at the St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral began just after hundreds of angry Christians left the complex to stage an anti-government march following the funeral for the four Christians killed in sectarian clashes Saturday."

The scores of Muslim rioters who attacked funeral goers "[pelted] the mourners with stones ... flash-bang grenades, tear gas, fire bombs, and other improvised weapons [and] set cars ablaze," according to Morning Star News.

Following the fighting at St. Mark's, Morsi condemned the attacks and ordered an investigation of the violence, promising protection for both Muslims and Christians.

CT previously has reported on Egypt and violence against Coptic Christians there, including a dispatch from Cairo on how Egyptian Christians were feeling on the first anniversary of their nation's revolution. Egypt's Copts are facing the future under an Islamist regime, including a hastily completed constitution that limits some previously guaranteed personal freedoms. Most recently, CT reported on the possible rise of Coptic evangelism in Libya and Sudan.

In addition, CT reported on the death of Pope Shenouda, the former leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and also on the election of Pope Tawadros last year.

Related Topics:Middle East
Posted:April 8, 2013 at 10:49AM
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