GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- U.N advisers on genocide said Friday they were concerned by the targeting of religious minorities caught up in the ongoing Egyptian political confrontation.
Hundreds of Egyptians were killed this week in clashes between government forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
The U.N. Security Council weighed the crisis during a Thursday meeting and the European Union vowed to take up the matter during a Monday meeting. U.S. President Barack Obama said he was questioning the traditional relationship with Egypt given the severity of the violence.
Adama Dieng, U.N. special envoy on the prevention of genocide, and Jennifer Welsh, the envoy on the responsibility to protect, issued a joint statement Friday expressing alarm Christian institutions were targeted during the violence.
"We urge all Egyptians to act responsibly during these difficult moments and refrain from using violence to express their grievances, in particular by targeting religious minorities and institutions, or by using language and inciting behaviors that may escalate tensions," they said Friday.
Violence against Christians is not new. Five Christians were killed outside a Coptic Christian cathedral in April. Nearly two dozen members of the Coptic community were killed in an attack on a church in Alexandria in January 2011.
"Egypt is at a critical juncture. In order to prevent any further escalation of violence, it is paramount to ensure the respect for human rights and equal protection of all persons, regardless of their political and religious affiliation," the envoys said.