Sectarian tension high in Egyptian village

CAIRO, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Sectarian tension remained high for a sixth straight day in a southern Egyptian village where a livestock stall owned by a Christian was torched Wednesday.

A security official told United Press International on condition of anonymity the police continued to encircle the village of Armant el-Heit in Qena province, some 340 miles south of Cairo, as Muslim-Christian tensions persist.


He said the authorities decided to renew the detention of seven people for another 15 days on charges of torching Coptic Christian shops Friday following rumors of a love affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman.

Reports from remote villages say Christians and Muslims are sometimes forced to convert because of inter-religious love affairs. While Islam allows men to marry non-Muslim women, it prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men and must thus convert to Islam.

While Christian-Muslim relations are relatively good, occasional sectarian skirmishes erupt in Egypt, where Christians constitute 8 million of the 76 million population of mostly Muslims.

In December 2004, violent clashes broke out between Christian protesters and police when angry Copts accused a Muslim man of forcing a Christian priest's wife of embracing Islam to marry her.


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