EU’s Ashton ‘concerned’ about cathedral violence

The European Union's foreign policy chief has said that she followed with great concern the Sunday clashes between Muslims and Christians in front of the Abbasseya Cathedral.

"I am extremely worried about the violent incidents at the Abbasseya Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. On hearing the news I immediately contacted the presidency, strongly urging restraint and for the security forces to control the situation," Catherine Ashton said in a statement on Sunday.

Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security, expressed the EU's deep concern about the violent sectarian events of Sunday and expressed solidarity with the families of the victims.

She praised, however, President Mohamed Morsy’s phone call to Pope Tawadros II in which he condemned the violence. Morsy reportedly said to the pope, “I consider any attack on the cathedral a personal attack on me.”

Ashton is currently in Cairo and she met on Sunday with the president. She was due to meet six main opposition leaders later, but EU diplomats told Reuters that the prospect of a dialogue between the Muslim Brotherhood-led government and its liberal and leftist opponents had dimmed after recent political violence.

Clashes had erupted in the wake of the funeral of four Christians who were killed on Friday in Khosous, Qalyubiya. The clashes took place in the vicinity of the main Coptic Cathedral in Cairo where the funeral was taking place, killing two people and injuring 89 others according to the Health Ministry.

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