Six Coptic Christians were shot dead and at least 45 injured in religious clashes with Muslims in the Egyptian capital March 9. Another Copt was killed in clashes with Muslims in Cairo the previous day, as some 1,000 Christians gathered to protest the burning of a church last week. The fighting broke out as dozens of Muslims showed up in the working-class district of Moqattam, inhabited by Copts who work as garbage collectors and who had blocked a main artery in the capital. People threw rocks from both sides and witnesses said soldiers at the scene fired shots into the air.
The Shahedain (Two Martyrs) church, in the Helwan provincial city of Sol, was set fire on Friday, March 4 after clashes between Copts and Muslims that left two dead. The violence was supposedly sparked by a feud between two families, which disapproved of a romantic relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman in Sol. (Middle East Online, March 9)
Also March 9, attackers armed with knives and machetes waded into hundreds of pro-democracy activists in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, setting off street fighting. Activists quickly gathered sticks and rocks to defend themselves from the mob, apparently supporters of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. (Middle East Online, March 9)
In another disturbing display of misogyny, a small International Women’s Day gathering of just some 100 in Tahrir Square on March 8 was surrounded by a far larger group of men, who chanted, taunted and shouted down speakers. The women’s gathering finally dispersed altogether after soldiers fired shots into the air to break up a fight at the edge of the square and almost caused a stampede. (Womens eNews, March 9)