Update: FJP head condemns Khosous violence

Freedom and Justice Party head Saad al-Katatny has condemned the clashes in the city of Khosous in Qalyubiya Governorate as “sectarian strife” and called them “unacceptable and dangerous.”

Katatny said in a Facebook statement that “someone wants to burn Egypt and create crises.” He also called on citizens and security forces to ensure safety and help stop the clashes, while also requesting that local religious leaders intervene.

The city is current calm after security intervened to stop clashes between Muslims and Christians Friday evening

A security source at the Qalyubiya Security Directorate told state-run news agency MENA that 15 people were arrested on charges of rioting.

Security forces buffered their presence in the areas where clashes took places, as well as in the vicinity of the Mar Girgis Church after a group of Muslim protesters had gathered in streets nearby.

The security source denied that protesters burned the house of a Christian accused of killing Mohamed Mahmoud, an 18-year-old student, during clashes. The source added that protesters had set fires in the streets leading to the house but security forces stopped them before they burned the house.

The clashes started Friday after a group of boys vandalized the wall of an Al-Azhar-affiliated building with graffiti, which denigrated into armed clashes between groups of Muslims and Christians. The clashes continued until early Saturday morning, killing four people and injuring several others.

Sources differed as to the identity of the boys who sprayed the graffiti. Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that the boys were Muslim, while Reuters reported that they were Christian.

Sectarian tensions have often flared into violence, particularly in rural areas where rivalries between clans or families sometimes add to friction. Love affairs between Muslims and Christians have also sparked clashed in the past.

Since Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising, Christians have complained of several attacks on churches by radical Islamists, incidents that have sharpened longstanding Christian complaints about being sidelined in the workplace and in law.

As an example, they point to rules that make it harder to obtain official permission to build a church than a mosque.

Last month, a court sentenced a Muslim to death for killing two people in a dispute with Christians in a southern town.

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