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EGYPT: Thousands march in Tahrir Square, Coptic Christians continue sit-in

May 13, 2011 |  3:13 pm

Tahrir Square

Thousands of protesters marched in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to stress the unity between Egypt’s Muslims and Christian Copts following sectarian clashes that ended with a dozen dead and more than 200 injured last week.

The march, which coincided with a rally in the square in solidarity with Palestinians, began with a Christian Mass followed by Friday prayers.

Cleric Mazhar Shahin, who delivered the Friday prayer speech, said Islam and Christianity do not teach hatred or incitement of violence.

Timeline: Revolution in Egypt

“Such strife is intended by a group of people who are neither Muslims nor Christians,” Shahin said as he warned Egyptians not to let extremists divide them.

Both Muslim and Coptic Christian protesters joined the demonstration, chanting, “Muslims and Copts are one hand” and carrying banners that said, “Egypt is for all Egyptians.”

“We need to have constitutional guarantees securing equal citizenship rights and respecting all religions without discrimination between Muslims and Copts,” Adel Mahmoud, who is Muslim, told Babylon and Beyond.

Mahmoud said he wants to see those responsible for sectarian violence on both sides punished under Egyptian law.

Also in Cairo on Friday, several thousand Coptic Christians continued a sit-in that started Sunday, calling for the immediate capture, trial and conviction of religious extremists responsible for last week’s violence.

On Wednesday, Egyptian leaders promised to draft laws to deter religious violence and authorities announced that more than 200 suspects had been detained in connection with last week’s sectarian clashes.

However, some Coptic Christians were still in disbelief Friday.

“I don’t trust news like this. I doubt if anyone will be brought to justice. It’s the same as many previous clashes where no one was held accountable for sectarian violence,” said a Coptic protester who asked not to be identified.

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Timeline: Revolution in Egypt

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Protesters in Tahrir Square on Friday. Credit: Khaled Desouky /Getty Images

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