Because Muslim extremists set a few days ago a church in the southern province of Aswan on fire, some 2,000 Coptic Christians in Cairo had initially protested peacefully. But then the situation got out of control.
In violent clashes between Christians, Muslims and Egyptian security forces, according to media reports at least 24 people were killed. More than 200 people had been injured, it said. The church in Aswan was set on fire by young Muslims, after the local governor had heated up the atmosphere, explaining the church was probably built without official approval.
Who shot first?
Over the course of the riots in Cairo, which lasted into the night to Monday (10/10/2011), there are conflicting accounts: The state television reported that the riots had begun after demonstrating Copts on soldier shot in front of the television building and they pelted with stones have.Participants of the demonstration said, however, they were fired when their march had reached the square in front of the television building. Armored cars were also in the middle of the army went into the crowd and had rolled over while demonstrators.
Witnesses reported that some demonstrators took to the soldiers in front of the television building up their weapons and aimed them against the armed forces. The fighting also spread to the nearby Tahrir Square and the surrounding streets. Thousands of people pelted each other with stones and firebombs. Several vehicles went up in flames.
The Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf condemned the violence and said the social networking site Facebook by "vandalizing forces." Their goal is to sow chaos in the country and to stoke sectarian tensions. The military command imposed on the Cairo city center, a nightly curfew.
It was the heaviest clashes in Egypt since the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak. The tensions between Christians and Muslims had recently increased steadily. The Egyptian Christians complain that the ruling military council, clearly not to act against the radical Muslim attacks on Christians. Back in May in religious clashes Twelve people were killed.
The Copts are the largest Christian community in Egypt. It comprises up to ten percent of the about 80 million residents of the predominantly Muslim country. About another half million Copts living in other countries, an estimated 6000 in Germany.