It's like the re-run of a horror movie for Jews from the Middle East: members of a non-Muslim minority gunned down and their places of worship burnt. The security services are nowhere to be seen, leaving it to well-meaning neighbours and friends to protect the terrified victims. Jews have seen it all before, but it's now happening to the Copts of Egypt. In this latest flare-up, the media talk of 'clashes' as if the Copts were equally to blame. Here's a report from CNN (with thanks: Eliyahu):
In the Cairo neighborhood of Maspiro, violence erupted when several hundred people, predominantly Christian but also Muslims, demonstrated in favor of national unity in front of the TV building.
Stones were hurled and people threw bricks from rooftops on predominantly Christian protesters. Some people were injured.
Chants could be heard of "with our souls and blood we will sacrifice ourselves for the cross." Military riot police with red helmets and clubs separated mutually hostile crowds.
Problems between Egypt's Muslim majority and its Coptic Christian minority have been on the rise in recent months, with a number of violent clashes reported between the two groups. Tensions flared after a recently-published U.S. government report on international religious freedom detailed the hostility targeting the minority Copts in the predominantly Muslim society.
During clashes on Saturday, witnesses said an armed group of Muslims marched on Saint Mena Coptic Orthodox Church, one of the oldest churches in Egypt.
Witnesses said Muslims and Christians exchanged gunfire, sending people running for cover.
"With my own eyes I saw three people killed and dozens injured," said Mina Adel, a Christian resident. "There's no security here. There's a big problem. People attacked us, and we have to protect ourselves."