The attack came
on what is Good Friday for many of the world's Christians. But the
Copts and other Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter a week later.
demonstrators claimed that if the government had held the perpetrators
of previous Muslim-Coptic clashes — that killed 22 people in southern
Egypt in 1998 and four people in Alexandria in October — to account,
this incident would not have happened.
But the Interior
Ministry has called on Christians to understand that the assailant in
this latest case, Mahmoud Salah-Eddin Abdel-Raziq, was "psychologically
disturbed." Officials and legislators have gone to the churches
concerned "to explain that the attackers are insane and that the people
should not blow things out of proportion," reported the AP.
of the Mar Girgis church told the Associated Press that he is trying to
explain the situation to parishioners. "We are trying to calm the
situation after many of our youth started protesting,” he said. “We
want to live in peace and tranquility, but these are people who had
their family members killed or wounded. We are doing our best."
There were some
conflicting reports over the number of assailants and the number of
wounded. One victim said he saw youth holding two machetes. Another
witness said the police sentry posted outside Saints Church did not
want to intervene.
up about 10 percent of Egypt's 72 million people. They generally live
in peace with the Muslim majority, but occasional sectarian clashes do
complain that they suffer job discrimination, particularly in the high
ranks of the civil service where high-ranking positions are mostly held
600 Christians demonstrated against what they consider government
indifference to sectarian attacks after a Coptic Christian was fatally
stabbed and at least five others were wounded Friday outside several
churches in Alexandria.