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Mar 06, 2011 at 07:12pm IST

Egypt: Christians protest church burning

Cairo: Hundreds of Coptic Christians gathered outside the state television and radio building in Cairo on Sunday to protest against the burning of a church following religious clashes south of the capital.

Protesters, some carrying wooden crosses and Egyptian flags, demanded that the armed forces intervene to protect Coptic communities and churches.

The demonstration comes two days after a church was torched following clashes between Muslims and Christians in the town of Sol, 90 km south of Cairo.

Egypt: Coptic Christians protest church burning

Tension has been especially high since the bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria.

Protesters demanded that those responsible for the incident be brought to justice.

Clashes in Sol were triggered when residents discovered that a Christian man from the town was having a relationship with a Muslim woman from a Cairo suburb, security sources said.

The fathers of the two families were killed by gunfire during the clashes on Friday.

After the men's funerals later that day, members of the Muslim community set fire to the Coptic Martyrs' Church in Sol.

Bishop Theodyssius of Giza said those burned the church were "thugs and outlaws" attempting to cause divisions and sedition, and called on the armed forces to intervene in Sol.

Religious tension occasionally erupts in violence in Egypt, where Christians comprise between 10 and 15 per cent of the population.

Tension has been especially high since the bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve, which killed more than 20 people. Authorities blamed Al-Qaeda for the bombing.

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