Sectarian Violence Kills 12 in Egypt

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Photo: Khaled Desouki/Getty Images

Ultraconservative Muslims attacked a church in Cairo Saturday night, after hearing rumors that a Christian woman set to marry a Muslim man had been abducted. And just blocks away, a separate youth mob attacked a Coptic Christian church with firebombs. In all, twelve were left dead — including six Muslims and three Coptic Christians — and more than 200 were wounded in the incidents. And while Islamic clerics denounced the violence, many say the rise in conflict is due to a sharp increase in activity from an ultraconservative Muslim sect called the Salafis. In the Salafis' crosshairs: The country's Coptic Christian minority population, which makes up around 10 percent of the country's 80 million residents. Authorities arrested around 190 people after Saturday night's incidents and sent them to military prosecutions, threatening tough penalties for religious persecutions. But that may not be enough. "What needs to happen and quickly is that the state implements the law," said Coptic scholar Sameh Fawzi. "This is a crime of thuggery and it should be treated as such."

Sectarian Clashes Kill 12 in Cairo [NYT]