Egypt Independent

Religious leaders banish Coptic man accused of sexual assault

Church leaders in a Qena village agreed to banish a Coptic man accused of sexually assaulting a Muslim girl in order to calm tensions in the village, regardless of his guilt or innocence, said local imam and preacher Sheikh Ahmed Sayed Ruslan.

The Waqf Prosecution in Qena Governorate decided Friday to detain the man for four days pending investigations.

Dozens of protestors had gathered Sunday morning in front of Marashda village's church after the Coptic merchant was accused of sexually assaulting the girl, throwing stones at security forces and attacked a number of shops owned by Christians in the village.

Calm returned to the village after Qena Security Directorate head Salah Mazid held a meeting with family heads and elders and got them to agree to let the law run its course without resorting to violence or vandalism.

The victim, a 5-year-old girl, said that the man sexually assaulted her in the house next to hers, according to the local prosecution's investigations.

The child's testimony will be examined Sunday afternoon by forensic investigators before being handed back to investigators.

The Center of Justice and Development for Human Rights in Qena said that its fact-finding team has the report of the primary medical examination on the child. It states that she has not been assaulted, and claims that the whole case is an attempt to ignite sectarian strife in the village. The center called on those responsible for the clashes to be taken to court.

Security forces continue to enforce a security cordon around the church to secure it from any attacks that may occur.

Seven suspects accused of attempting to storm the church were sent to Qena Security Directorate to be interrogated by prosecutors.