Security forces fired tear gas canisters to disperse outraged al-Marashda Village residents who were attacking a Coptic church on Friday afternoon. Tensions between Muslims and Copts in this Upper Egypt village in the Qena Governorate flared earlier in the day after a Muslim family accused a Coptic resident of sexually assaulting their four-year-old child.
Muslim residents of the town destroyed the shop owned by the accused, as well as three other shops belonging to Coptic residents. The vandals then gathered in front of the village church to protest against the alleged abuse.
Salah Mazied, the head of the Qena Security Directorate, sent security forces to the scene. The forces dispersed the crowd and set up a security cordon around the church.
However, protesters returned after Friday prayers and began hurling stones at the church, at which point security forces fired tear gas. No injuries have been reported, and security has been intensified on the streets adjacent to the church in anticipation of further violence.
The alleged victim is to undergo a medical examination, and the accused perpetrator has been arrested pending investigation.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm