Egypt traffic dispute turns into sectarian brawl

AP News
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Posted: Apr 19, 2011 4:43 PM
Egypt traffic dispute turns into sectarian brawl

Two Muslims were killed in southern Egypt after a dispute over a speed bump with a Christian family spiraled out of control and turned into destructive sectarian riot, reported the state news agency Tuesday.

Local residents of small village in the province of Minya were incensed by the presence of a large speed bump outside the villa of a prominent Coptic Christian lawyer and member of the former ruling party, which has since been dissolved.

The dispute with the house guards turned violent and they opened fire, killing two bystanders and incensing the local community.

A mob then ransacked a cafe owned by the lawyer and several homes of local Christians.

Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt's population of 80 million and for the most part live in peace with the Muslim majority, though they complain of discrimination. Sectarian strife occasionally breaks out, particularly in the southern, poorer parts of the country.

In recent weeks, however, following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, many religious conservatives in the countryside have become more assertive and anti-government protests occasionally take on a sectarian tone.

In Qena province, south of Minya, five days of protests led by ultraconservative Salafi Muslims have been calling for the resignation of a newly appointed Christian governor.