The seven Muslims accused of attacking Coptic property in Qena were released Saturday, while the priest of Abi-Fam church was summoned for investigation.
Sectarian tension took over Al-Marshada village after a Coptic shop-owner was accused of molesting a six-year old Muslim girl. The alleged molester remainsin custody.
Upon release of the seven detainees, their families launched an attack on the Freedom and Justice party, reported state-owned Al-Ahram. The families had organised protests which persisted until the detainees’ release, attacking security property in the process, stated Ishak Ibrahim, researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).
The released detainees were accused of attacking Coptic property, inciting chaos, pelting a church and assaulting security personnel after Friday prayers. The Qena prosecution also summoned the Coptic shop-owners whose shops got attacked to hear their testimony, reported Al-Ahram. They ordered the establishment of a committee to look into the incident.
Abdel Kereem Ibrahim, Secretary General of the Salafi Al-Watan party, said: “The current crisis summarises the polarisation taking over the political scene.” He added that the alleged molestation should be tackled according to the law.
“If the defendant is guilty, then he should receive the maximum punishment, not because he’s a Copt, but because the victim is a child.” Ibrahim stated that the crisis is being used to flare sectarian tension.
Muslim and Christian leaders in the village met on Friday night in an effort to ease tensions and bring an end to the violence. The meeting agreed that the village would accept the result of the investigation and possible trial of the accused shop- keeper.
Additional reporting by Basil El-Dabh