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Eternity: Tension escalates in Egypt

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12 May 2011: Tensions between Islamists and Coptic Christians in Egypt escalated over the weekend, with attacks on two churches in Cairo’s Imbaba suburb. The clashes left 12 dead and more than 200 injured. Eternity has spoken with two Australian-based authorities for their understanding of what happened, and for an update on the situation in Egypt. Ian Wright, CEO of aid organisation Barnabas Fund Australia, says that on Saturday 7 May, members of the conservative Salafi Islamist group threw fire bombs at a church and Christian property. They also attacked another church which they believed was holding captive a female convert to Islam. He says that what triggered the violence was a televised interview in which a Christian woman denied that she had ever become a Muslim. Following the televised interview, several hundred Islamists surrounded a six-storey building, demanding the release of the convert they believed was being held captive. The residents, largely Coptic Christians, barricaded themselves within the building.

 

Egypt violence stokes fear in Coptic Christian community

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As the Egyptian government moves to strengthen security around places of worship in the Australian Coptic Christian community fears are rising for friends and relatives overseas.
In particular there are concerns for the safety of women. One social worker says she fears Coptic women are now the targets of sectarian violence.
The Australian Coptic Bishop of Melbourne says he's raised the safety of his community with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The Egyptian ambassador says there is a "Coptic problem" in Egypt and the Copts have legitimate concerns.
Sarah Dingle reports.

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Protest and Religion Part 1: Egypt - Perspectives on the Revolution.

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The Christian population of Egypt numbers about ten per cent - but eighty per cent of Egyptian emigrants are Christian, and Australia is home to 80,000 Coptic Christians from Egypt. What roles did Christians play in the revolution, and what are their hopes and fears for the future?
Producer: Margaret Coffey

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