Thousands of Coptic Christians clashed with police in southern Egypt Jan. 7 during a funeral procession for seven people shot dead as they left a Christmas service hours earlier. Protesters hurled stones at vehicles and set fire to ambulances in the town of Nag Hamadi, 40 miles from the ancient ruins of Luxor. The unrest was sparked by a drive-by shooting in which three men sprayed automatic gunfire into a crowd leaving a midnight Mass to mark the Coptic Christmas.
Egypt’s interior ministry said the attack is thought to be retaliation for the alleged rape of a 12-year-old Muslim girl by a Christian man in November in the same town. The local Bishop Kiroloss said he decided to end the traditional Christmas Eve service at St John’s Church an hour early because of threats. He said his parishioners had been harassed in the street, while he received a chilling text message warning, “It is your turn.” (The Telegraph, Jan. 7)