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EGYPT: Qena protests end after Coptic governor is suspended

April 26, 2011 |  7:40 am

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Protesters in Qena have ended an 11-day sit-in after Prime Minister Essam Sharaf suspended recently appointed Gov. Emad Mikhail, a Coptic Christian with ties to the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Thousands of angry residents, many of them opposed to having a Christain governor, have been demonstrating  in Qena’s main square over the last week. Protesters also blocked the main railway connecting the governorate to Cairo, 300 miles north. But  Mikhail’s suspension appears to have calmed the protests and train traffic has resumed.

In a televised speech Monday read by the minister of local development on behalf of Sharaf, who was traveling in Saudi Arabia, it was announced that Mikhael will be suspended for three months.

“The prime minister will be visiting Qena during the suspension period, where he’ll be looking into the masses’ demands in order to reach a decision that will be based on the desire of Qena’s residents of Muslims and Copts,” Minister Mohsen Nomani said. “We call on Qena’s residents to restore order and retain normal life activities in the governorate.”

While a number of Copts took part in protests against Mikhail’s appointment, the majority of demonstrators were Muslims angry at the selection of a Christian governor. Other Muslim said they opposed Mikhail due to his affiliation with former Interior Minister Habib Adli, who’s on trial for corruption cases and may be facing charges related to killing protesters during the popular uprising this year that toppled Mubarak.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. Credit: Associated Press

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