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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Up to 10 Christians killed in Muslim violence in Egypt

Five, eight, nine or ten Coptic Christians were killed in rioting last night by Muslims in Western Cairo who attacked Christians and burned down two churches. The riots may have been connected to the alleged marriage of a Christian woman to a Muslim man.
Mixed relationships are taboo in Egypt, where the Muslim majority and sizable Christian minority are both largely conservative. Such relationships are often the source of deadly clashes between the faiths.

If a Christian woman marries a Muslim, she is expelled from the church. A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a Christian man, according to state law.

Because divorce is banned under the Coptic Church, unless under stringent conditions, many women resort to conversion as a way to get out of a marriage.

The case of Camilla Shehata, the wife of a Coptic priest, captivated attention last summer and has again become a source of tension.

Ultraconservative Muslims have held protests and appeared on talk shows demanding the return of Shehata to Islam. They accused the police of collaborating with the church by handing Shehata over to church authorities to reconvert her.

On Saturday, Shehata appeared on a Christian TV station broadcast from outside of Egypt in a teleconference with her husband to say she was still a Christian and had never converted.

She said the protests were an attack on the church. "Let the protesters leave the Church alone and turn their attention to Egypt's future." The woman's whereabouts is unknown.

Ultraconservative Muslims have gained prominence in Egypt, becoming more assertive in trying to spread their version of an Islamic way of life.
Another report claimed that a Christian woman married to a Muslim man had been abducted by the church and was being held against her will.

Either way, someone started shooting, and although Muslims claimed some of their people were killed, all the dead appear to be Christian.

Lisa Graas has several videos from Saturday night's events here.

The source of the picture above is here.

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