“Christians and Muslims fought in the streets of western Cairo on Saturday in violence triggered by word of a mixed romance, Egypt’s official news agency reported. At least five people were killed.
Ultraconservative Muslims have renewed protests in recent days accusing the church of abducting the wife of a Coptic priest who the protesters believe converted to Islam. Copts answered back by holding their own rally Friday outside the Orthodox Church to protest what they said was the “targeting of the church.”
The news agency said the violence Saturday broke out in the Imbaba neighborhood after word spread that a Christian woman had married a Muslim and was being held in a church against her will.
Hundreds of Muslims converged on the church to demand the woman be released, witnesses said. Copts stood outside the church protecting it. The witnesses said gunfire was exchanged in the melee, including from people shooting from rooftops.
Islamists threw firebombs at the church, leaving the facade burning. Firefighters battled with the fire in the church as violence extended to nearby streets. Fire also hit homes near the church, the witnesses said. Crowds chanted, “With our souls and our blood we defend you, Islam.”