Muslims attack Coptic church in Egypt

Jan. 18, 2013 at 3:55 PM

AL-MARASHDA, Egypt, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Security forces in al-Marashda, Egypt, fired tear gas to disperse Muslims attacking a Coptic church, a security official said.

The attack on the church Friday was a reaction to tensions between Muslim and Coptic Christians in the Upper Egypt village, after a Muslim family accused a 45-year-old Coptic shop owner of sexually abusing their 4-year-old child, the Cairo newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reported Friday.

The news website Ahram Online described the alleged victim was a 6-year-old girl.

The church had been attacked about dawn, and a number of shops in the village were burned by Muslims, Ahram Online reported Friday.

As violence mounted, the village's Muslim imam, Sheik al-Hafez called on local youth to form security groups to prevent looters from breaking into stores operated by Coptic Christians.

Christian Bishop Kirollos said the young girl had been seen by a medical official and had not been sexually abused, adding the accused shop owner was under police protection.

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