CAIRO -- New sectarian violence erupted in a village near Cairo Wednesday following the death of a Muslim man, prompting all the local Christians to flee, church and security officials said.
Tensions flare frequently between Egypt's majority Muslims and minority Christians, but clashes rarely result in such a flight of an entire Christian community, in this case, about 100 families, said Ishak Ibrahim, who monitors religious freedom in Egypt for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
The violence in Dahshour, about 25 miles south of Cairo, is the first case of sectarian violence in the weeks since Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood took over as president. The election of an Islamist raised fears among Egypt's Christian and other minorities that their rights would be curtailed, and that they might become targets of extremist Muslim attacks.
Security officials said police fired tear gas early Wednesday at angry Muslims who were trying to set fire to the local church. The rioters, who were returning from the burial of a Muslim man who died in the clashes, damaged several Christian properties and police trucks.
Sixteen people, including 10 policemen, were injured, said the security officials.
The local Giza Archbishop's office said in a statement that the Christian families fled the village fearing further attacks from Muslims.Sectarian violence first erupted in Dahshour on Friday after an argument between a Christian laundry worker and his client, a Muslim, whose shirt he burned. The Muslim man and friends went to the Christian's home to continue the argument, provoking him to lob firebombs at the crowd gathering outside his home, EIPR said, quoting witness accounts.
The firebombs injured a bystander who died Tuesday of his wounds.