Fundamentalist Muslims firebombed a Coptic Christian Church in the Imbaba district late Saturday night in Cairo as a power vacuum after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak 3 months ago leaves many wondering just how much of a hold the Muslim brotherhood has in Egypt.
Soldiers fought with Christian protesters who shouted accusations that the soldiers weren’t doing enough to protect them from Muslim fundamentalists. Muslim protestors accused the Coptics of holding a woman captive who converted to Islam inside the church.
Soldiers advanced firing shots over the heads of Muslim and Salafi fundamentalists sending the mob running down the street. Inside the smoke filled church of St. Mena in Cairo, blood pooled on the floors as priests tended to the dead saying last rites. The Egyptian government said 12 people, including at least four Christians and six Muslims, died in the violence.
Christians stood outside the burning church chanting “Oh God! Oh Jesus” as the Muslims shouted back: “There is no God but Allah.” The Muslim protestors claimed the Coptics fired at them as they tried to negotiate the release of the woman who converted to Islam.
Copts denied the claims they were holding converts. One man named Mamduh said, “We won’t leave until they give up their weapons and those who killed us are tried…”.
Only 10 percent of Egypt’s population are Coptic Christian, with the majority being Muslim. Many Christians claim the overthrow of Mubarak will encourage more radical fundamentalist Islamic violence even though other protestors claim Mubarak was secretly encouraging Islamic militancy to win support form Western governments like the United States.