An angry mob of over 100 people rushed into a crowd of Christian protesters who were assembled outside a TV station in Cairo, Egypt last Sunday, hurling rocks and fire bombs and setting fire to vehicles in the middle of the street.
According to an anonymous security official at the scene, the attack was in retaliation for an earlier conflict that took place between the protestors and motorists who had attempted to pass through the demonstration area. One demonstrator claimed that the motorists had refused to be searched before entering the protest area, then began firing blank rounds into the crowd after a confrontation escalated.
Sixty-five people were reportedly injured during Sunday’s attack, the latest episode of violence in a region that has been increasingly besieged by religious conflict since former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down from office in February 2011. Thousands of Christians have staged protests against the violence in recent weeks, demanding that the Egyptian government provide more security for the country’s minority Christians and impose stricter penalties for anyone who commits crimes of violence against them.
Sunday’s attack came on the heels of an incident that took place one week earlier, when a Muslim crowd destroyed Christian homes and businesses and burned down the Church of the Holy Virgin, because of a rumor that Christians were detaining a woman who allegedly wanted to convert to Islam.
Religious persecution has become so intense in Egypt that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recently labeled the nation as a Country of Particular Concern, stating in its 2011 annual report that “serious problems of discrimination, intolerance, and other human rights violations against members of religious minorities…remain widespread in Egypt.”
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