Ten Die in Egyptian Religious Clash, 190 to Court

Cairo, May 8 (Prensa Latina) The Egyptian government held an emergency meeting on Sunday in the wake of fresh clashes between Christians and Muslims that left 10 people dead, and a military court will try 190 suspects for causing the unrest.

The sectarian conflict on Saturday over the conversion of a Christian woman to Islam was Egypt’s worst since 13 people died in violence on March 9 sparked by a church burning. It presents a new challenge for the generals ruling the country since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

About 500 conservative Islamists known as Salafists massed outside the St. Mina Church in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba on Saturday demanding Christians there hand over a woman they said had converted to Islam and was being held against her will.

The Salafists were joined by other Muslims who demanded access to the church to see if the woman was inside. Tensions flared, shots were fired and both sides threw firebombs and stones.

Soldiers and police fired shots in the air and used tear gas to separate the two sides but stone-throwing skirmishes went on through the night in streets near the church.

Another church nearby, St. Mary’s, was set on fire and badly damaged in the overnight clashes.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf canceled a tour of Gulf states to call an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday morning to decide how to respond to the violence.

Security forces arrested 190 people, and the Supreme Military Council decided to send all of them to the Supreme Military Court.

A committee will be set up to assess the damage caused during the clashes and to restore property, in this case, St. Maryâ�Ös church that was burned down by Salafists.

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