Saturday, April 15, 2006

Muslims help Christians celebrate Good Friday by attacking churches and stabbing Christians -

Update 2: Man With Knife Attacks Egypt Worshippers -

A man with a knife attacked worshippers at two Coptic churches in the northern Mediterranean city of Alexandria during Mass on Friday, killing one person and wounding five before he was arrested, the government said.

The Interior Ministry identified the attacker as Mahmoud Salah-Eddin Abdel-Raziq and said he suffered from "psychological disturbances."

The attacks came on what is Good Friday to many of the world's Christians, although Egypt's Copts _ and other followers of the Greek Orthodox church _ mark the holiday a week later.

Earlier, police officials said three men had been arrested in four simultaneous church assaults, one of them foiled by police. They said 17 people were wounded, and one later died.

There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancies between the reports. In the past, the government has tried to play down incidents that can be perceived as sectarian in nature so as not to inflame tensions between the Coptic minority and Muslim majority.

"This morning, a citizen attacked three worshippers inside the Mar Girgis Church in al-Hadhra with a knife and then fled and went into the Saints Church, where he attacked three other worshippers and again fled," the ministry statement said.

While he was trying to enter a third church, he was stopped and arrested by police, the statement said.

It said one of the worshippers died of his wounds. The semiofficial Middle East News Agency identified the victim as Nushi Atta Girgis, 78.

...About 600 angry Copts, mostly young men, gathered to protest the attacks in the Sidi Bishr neighborhood, outside Saints Church. The area was ringed by about 200 riot police, and truckloads more were nearby. "Stop the persecution of Copts in Egypt," read one banner.

Coptic Christians, who account for about 10 percent of Egypt's 72 million people, complain of discrimination in getting jobs, particularly in senior levels of government. They generally live in harmony with the Muslim majority, although violence flares occasionally. "Hosni Mubarak, where are you? State security is between us and you!" some chanted.

Nearby, bloodstains could be seen on the top step of the church.

Howie at The Jawa Report points to more details at The Times of London website:

Police said three people were wounded at the nearby Mari Girgis (St. George) Church, and four attacked at a church in Abu Qir, several miles to the east.

"The attacker stormed the church armed with a knife and shouted ’There is no God but Allah’ and ’Allah is the greatest’ before stabbing the worshippers," one of the Marie Girgis church employees told an AFP reporter at the scene.

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