Offensive Facebook images trigger riots

Jan. 2, 2012 at 4:27 PM
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ASSUIT, Egypt, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Rioting broke out in Assuit, Egypt, after a 15-year-old Coptic student allegedly posted offensive images of the Prophet Mohammed on Facebook, authorities say.

Muslim residents of Assuit accused the student of posting the images on his Facebook account. The student denied doing so, and claimed they were shared on his page without his permission.

When the incident was publicized, fighting broke out in the area between Muslims and Copts in the villages of Baheeg, Adr, Salam and Menqebad. Security officers and villagers threw stones at each other while at least six houses belonging to Copts were burned. Seven officers were hospitalized with injuries sustained during the riots.

The township prosecutor has called for the student to be held for 15 days while the incident is under investigation.

Mostafa al-Sayyed, Aswan's governor, met with Muslim and Coptic leaders to discuss the incident. It was decided the rioters would be arrested, priests should issue public apologies for the images, and that the student and his family should move out of the area.

Last year, a young Coptic man was sentenced to three years in prison for posting statements on Facebook that were believed to be offensive to the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, the Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reported.

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