CAIRO, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Sectarian tendencies in Egypt may have contributed to escalating violence targeting the country's Christian community, an opposition leader said.
Mohamed ElBaradei, who returned to Cairo in February following his tenure at the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria during the weekend was in part because of a religious climate in Egypt that fostered intolerance.
Twenty-one people died New Year's Day when a Coptic Christian church in Alexandra was bombed, setting off days of protests and riots by Christians who said the government encouraged discrimination and didn't do enough to protect Coptic Christians.
In a video message posted on his Facebook page, ElBaradei said the issue could be settled in Egypt by creating "an environment in which everyone sees himself as Egyptian without consideration to his religion or beliefs," Egyptian daily newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reports.
Egyptian police were ordered to protect the Christian community in Egypt and Muslims were called on to show solidarity with the minority group as it prepares for Christmas celebrations Friday.
Egypt's Coptic Christian minority makes up 10 percent of the country's 80 million people.