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Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church has denounced the army's removal of a wall enclosing a desert monastery, which accused the army of "excessive violence" that injured six staff.
The army removed the wall because the monastery had not obtained a license to build it, as required by Egyptian law.
In a statement on Thursday, the church said that the decision by the Anba Bishoy Church, located at Wadi al-Natrun, Beheira, to erect the wall was "unwise".
Around 2000 Copts gathered on Wednesday in Tahrir Square to protest the incident, following the weekly sermon by the head of the Egyptian Coptic church, Pope Shenouda III.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has governed the country since the 11 February ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, said on its Facebook page that soldiers had removed "some walls that had been illegally built on the road and on land owned by the state."
The army denied claims that it had been in involved in attacks on the monastery or that it had any intention to demolish the building, asserting its “belief in freedom and the sanctity of places of worship."
The monastery issued a statement, which observers considered the first official admission by an Egyptian church of infringing on state lands.
The monastery said the army acted with excessive violence, injuring six of its staff. It urged the military council to investigate the incident, immediately release the detained church members, and hold the wrongdoers accountable.