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EGYPT: Muslim sentenced to death for drive-by shootings at Coptic church


An Egyptian state security court sentenced a Muslim man to death Sunday for killing six Coptic Christians in a drive-by shooting outside a church in southern Egypt last year that jolted the nation and touched off a spate of sectarian violence. 

The verdict against Hamam Kamouny, 39, who was also charged with killing a Muslim security guard at the church, was handed down two weeks after 25 Christian worshippers were killed in a New Year's Day bombing of a church in the coastal city of Alexandria.

The Egyptian government has been under immense pressure from Copts, who feel targeted by local militants and a burgeoning Islamic extremism, much of it emanating from an Al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq. Egypt has attempted to play down the recent violence, which to many Christians, who make up 10% of the population, points up the nation's widening sectarian divide.

Kamouny is one of three suspects charged with the murders by a state security court in Qena province, about 152 miles south of Cairo. His sentence is awaiting final confirmation from Egypt's Grand Mufti, who reviews all death-penalty cases to ensure they comply with Islamic law. The cleric's decision will be announced Feb. 20.

On the same day, a state security court is expected to sentence the two other defendants for the killings that took place in the southern city of Nagaa Hammadi on Coptic Christmas Eve on Jan. 6, 2010. The slayings occured shortly after a Coptic man in the area was arrested for allegedly raping a Muslim girl.

The church killings sparked demonstrations by thousands of angry Copts, who protested against "oppression of the Christian minority" in Egypt and "increase of hatred against Copts."

Christians and Muslims have lived in relative peace in Egypt for centuries, but Sunday's verdict came amid fresh anger over the Alexandria church bombing and last week's shooting rampage on a train by an off-duty policeman that killed a 71-year-old Coptic man and wounded five other Christians.

Egypt's state security courts, which offer no right of appeal, were set up under the country's emergency law, which has been in effect since 1981.

-- Amro Hassan and Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo

Photo: a Coptic protest in Cairo following the Alexandria bombing. Credit: Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (5)

I hope death penalty will be abolished by law of Islam.
We think life is a gift from God for all people and we shouldn´t destroy waht He has made.

Nice first step, but let's see if RADICAL Islamic clerics maneuvering behind the scenes manage to OVERTURN this death sentence by putting pressure on the Egyptian government.

Similar to Pakistan, these radical Egyptian clerics wield MUCH power behind the scenes in Egyptian politics...the same Islamists who assassinated Anwar Sadat are STILL a threat to assassinate Mubarak or any other high official in his regime, which makes the government VERY vulnerable to Islamist pressure.

To Linda, your comments indicate that you have absolutely no idea how the middle east works. Your comments indicate a typical American ignorance of the region. In those parts of the world, if you disagree with the government your whereabouts will not be known. If you perform any search of protests in Egypt or elsewhere in the middle east you'll notice how the police and military arrest and shoot people, and these aren't the kind of protests that you might see in LA or Oakland where there are storefronts and vehicles are set on fire, these are people attempting to express their oppressed feelings. I agree with you Mubarak does not treat his people well and in addition is very much a coward. Everything that has been happening in the last few weeks (eg. sentencing) is to save face with the US and the rest of the world; and yes the US needs to put pressure on cowards like Mubarak to clean up the discrimination and oppression in their countries and keep islamic fundamentalists at bay. Let's see what the cleric has to say on Feb 20.

Don't you mean "Mubarak" needs to put more pressure on the Islamic regime in Egypt to treat Christians in a civil way. Mubarak is the Presiden of Egypt right? Not Obama. But another thing, your men there need to grow some testicles and stop letting him mistreat the people. Everyone in Egypt needs to take a stand with the president there. He is a sorry worthless piece of crap who doesn't geve two cents about the people. !!

This is the first time a court sentence a Muslim who killed a Christian, there is a doubt that the Muslim cleric will agree the sentence as it's forbidden that A Muslim who kill a Christian to be punished in Islam, Christians in Egypt have lots hundreds of loved ones due to the Islamic laws in Egypt which makes them second class citizens and slaves to Muslims. Obama needs to put more pressure on the Islamic regime in Egypt to treat Christians in a civil way. Los Anglos Times need to depend on Christian reporter to pursue the fair and the full truth!!


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