As clashes in Dahshur die down, govt accused of inaction

The week-long clashes between Muslim and Coptic residents in the Giza village of Dahshur seemed to have drawn to an end by Thursday morning, although central security forces remain in place to prevent renewed attacks. 

The father of 19-year-old Moaz Mohamed, killed on Tuesday during the violence, stated today that he does not seek revenge for his son’s death.

Giza Governor Ali Abdel Rahman told the state-owned news source MENA on Thursday that Moaz’s family will leave the case in the hands of the judiciary.

A committee including both Muslim and Coptic figures will hold a reconciliation meeting attended by the governor and head of Giza security before sending the case to the courts, Rahman continued.

The governor said that he received a report stating that only eight Coptic families in the village have left their homes, as opposed to 150 families, as had been reported in the media. The governor called on the families to return to their homes without fear of further attacks.

The Giza Diocese has released a statement describing the events that began on Wednesday 25 July. A fight broke out after a Coptic launderer was accused of burning his Muslim customer's shirt while ironing.

According to the Diocese, the fight escalated from there, with several more individuals joining the fight and both sides throwing Molotov cocktails. The launderer's house was allegedly set on fire during the fight, and one individual was taken to the hospital after suffering burns on his face.

The statement also added that Moaz Mohamed, a Muslim, was walking in the vicinity of the fighting when he was struck by a Molotov cocktail. He was taken to a nearby hospital and died shortly thereafter. The presence of security forces was then increased in the village.

Following Moaz’s funeral, the homes of several Copt families were allegedly burnt, leading to renewed clashes in the village. Attackers allegedly smashed the windows of the local church, vandalized nearby homes and looted Copt-owned shops.

The Giza Diocese called on police and military leaders to regain control in the town, demanding an end to the violence and that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

The Free Egyptians Party held a press conference today in which they condemned the clashes and vandalism, and called on President Mohamed Morsy’s government to take action.

On his twitter page, author Alaa Al Aswany demanded that Morsy visit Dahshour to see the situation for himself. He demanded that all those behind the violence, whether Coptic or Muslim, be brought to justice.

Former MP Amr Hamzawy also addressed Morsy on Thursday morning via twitter, saying that the president needs to establish agencies that would be equipped to deal with such sectarian violence.

Hamzawy wrote that resorting to traditional security forces and holding customary reconciliation sessions would not be enough to solve the problem.

He pointed that the Committee for National Justice has already developed plans to identify and respond to sectarian clashes in the early stages, and stressed that the president should avail himself of this resource.

Hamzawy concluded by saying that staying silent when facing the events of Dahshur and other sectarian clashes is a “disaster."

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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