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Church siege over inter-faith love

Egyptian police have fired tear gas during clashes with a stone-throwing mob of Muslims who had surrounded a Coptic Church in anger over an inter-faith romance.

The Muslim protesters accuse the church of helping to secret away 21-year-old Rana el-Shazli, believed to have converted to Christianity before fleeing her small town with a Coptic Christian man to Turkey.

The alleged romance ignited sectarian tension in Wasta, a rural town in Beni Suef province, about 60 miles south of Cairo.

Clashes flared anew on Friday after weekly Muslim prayers, said a police source and a priest.

For more than a month, Muslims have attacked churches over the incident and forced Christians to close their shops in the town.

Christians make up nearly 10% of Egypt's population of 90 million.


From Belfast Telegraph