Egyptian Muslims, Christians clash over caricature


Sectarian clashes broke out in the southern Egyptian province of Assiut after a Christian student posted a blaphemous caricature on the Internet, officials said on Saturday. The clashes, which spread to three villages, saw several Christian homes burned and left five police officers injured, a security official said.
On Thursday, dozens of Muslims tried to storm the home of the Christian student after the drawing appeared online. Police were called to the scene, arrested the student and formed a cordon around the house to prevent clashes, Assiut governor Abdelrahim Borei said.
But on Friday, a group of Muslims set fire to a shop owned by the student’s father in a nearby village and another group burned Christian homes in another neighbouring village and clashed with its residents. Borei has called for an emergency meeting with political and church officials as well as with recently elected MPs and members of ultra-conservative Salafi Muslim groups to try to defuse tensions.
“The situation is now calm in the three villages. We have deployed police in the areas in order to maintain order,” Borei told state television. Egypt’s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi said the army would increase security around churches during the New Year and Coptic Christmas period, which falls on January 7.