Two separate incidents of sectarian violence in villages in the governorate of Minya on Thursday claimed several lives.
One of the incidents took place in the village of Badraman where reports surfaced of a relationship between a Muslim girl and a Coptic boy. Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said the families of the girl and the boy held reconciliatory talks but the talks fell through after “Muslims burnt down the house of the boy’s father and an adjacent house.”
Ibrahim said tensions escalated when a Muslim man was killed in “unknown circumstances,” possibly in a security chase.
State-run Al-Ahram reported that in addition to one dead person, six were injured in the violence. It added that two people were arrested.
The other incident broke out between residents of the predominantly Coptic village of Nazlet Ebeid and the predominantly Muslim village of El-Hawarta. A statement by the Diocese of Minya and Abu Qurqas said a Coptic landowner whose land is close to El-Hawarta village was being prevented from building a house on his land.
The Coptic landowner had filed a complaint with the police regarding the issue but tensions escalated when he and others who were with him were shot at while building a fence around his land. Clashes which started on Wednesday continued until Thursday. People from both villages gathered as a result and the ensuing violence left four dead, according to Bishop Makarios of Minya who spoke to private channel ONTV. He added that around 55 people were injured.
Ishak said the situation between the two villages is now under control.
The Ministry of Interior media centre said it would release a statement on the incidents but has yet to do so.
Ibrahim said that both incidents have to do with the “absence of implementing the law” and that the “perpetrators are not punished.” He also said the violence is a result of collective punishment leading to the involvement of people who have nothing to do with the original argument.
Sectarian tensions had earlier flared in another Minya village, Delga. Of the five churches in the village, three were attacked after the 3 July ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi. Two people had reportedly died.