Qena sectarian clashes leave at least 2 injured

Clashes broke out between Muslims and Coptic Christians in a village in Qena Thursday, leaving at least two villagers injured, according to news reports Friday.

Al-Ahram reported that clashes in the village of Rahmaniya, which is located in the city of Nagaa Hammadi in Qena Governorate, left a 16-year-old boy with a bullet wound and a 40-year-old man with a facial injury. Security forces were dispatched to the area Thursday evening to prevent further clashes, the report added.

News outlets offered conflicting reasons for the clashes. Privately owned Al-Shorouk reported that the clashes began over a disputed tract of land, eventually leaving the house of a Coptic villager and a communications center belonging to a Muslim villager burnt down.

State-owned Rose al-Youssef, on the other hand, blamed the fighting on Salafi villagers trying to prevent Copts from voting in parliamentary elections being re-conducted on Thursday. The report quoted Nagaa Hammadi bishop Kyrillos as saying he had received anonymous threats on his mobile phone saying that Christians should not vote against Islamists.

An earlier court ruling decreed elections should be re-held for single-winner seats in Qena's third electoral district, which includes the cities of Abu Tesht, Farshout, Deshna and Nagaa Hammadi. These elections were held on 14 and 15 January, and runoffs on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and Salafi-led Nour Party have won a sweeping majority in elections for Egypt's lower house of parliament, which began on 28 November 2011 and are currently wrapping up.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of over 80 million. Clashes often erupt between Copts and Muslims over land conflicts, disputes over church construction or sectarian tensions.

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