An Egyptian court decided on Monday to postpone the trial of a Christian man accused of raping a Muslim girl in an incident which the government says could have been behind sectarian violence in Nagaa Hammadi, south of Egypt, earlier this year.
Egyptian police arrested 21-year-old Georges Baromi Georges in November last year, accusing him of raping a 12-year-old Muslim girl in Farshout village, Qena governorate, 600km south of Cairo.
A few days after the incident, a number of angry Muslims set fire to dozens of shops belonging to Christians in Farshout village. The Ministry of the Interior said the incident may have also prompted the murder on 6 January of six Christians and a Muslim guard as Coptic Christians were leaving church following Christmas celebrations in the city of Nagaa Hammadi, located near to Farshout village.
Judicial sources said Qena’s criminal court decided to postpone proceedings in the rape case until 8 November in response to a request by the defense team to allow them time to talk with the chief medical examiner and the two doctors who prepared the forensic report.
An Egyptian court is currently considering placing three Muslim men on trial in connection with the Nagaa Hammadi case, the most brutal in a wave of sectarian attacks since the 2000 Kosheh village clashes in Sohag Governorate, south of Egypt, when 20 Christians and one Muslim were killed.
Clashes between Copts and Muslims in Egypt are most often the result of conflicts concerning land or the building of churches, or occasionally due to relationship issues.