Sectarian fights over proselytizing injure 12 at Assiut University

Clashes broke out Saturday between Muslim and Coptic students in the Assiut University women’s dorms after a Coptic student reportedly proselytized Christianity to Muslim students, leaving 12 students and supervisors injured.

A Coptic law student had distributed proselytizing leaflets and booklets in university dorms with her friend, an engineering student, a security source said.

The booklets they handed out were titled “The Lord invites you” and “Salvation Ship.” They also gave pictures of some Christian figures to Muslim students in their rooms and in the building’s study hall. The law student also encouraged them to convert to Christianity.

“These actions raised the ire of Muslim students,” the security source said.

The students and supervisors who were injured were trying to resolve the dispute, the source said. They sustained injuries to their heads and bodies.

Some Muslim students had said they reported the Coptic students’ actions to the building management, but that the management failed to stop them.

The two sides started fighting amid shouts of sectarian chants, and when the building supervisor tried to intervene, women from both sides started beating her.

Demonstrations by both sides started and lasted until 3 am Sunday.

University president Mostafa Kamel, Vice President of Student Affairs Adel Ryan, Assiut Governor Major General Al-Sayed al-Borai and security and military leaders visited the dorms.

Kamal and the security leaders met with both parties to calm the situation, and he threatened to expel the students involved in the clashes from both parties and cancel their exams if there any new riots.

Dozens of Christians and Muslims protested in the vicinity of the university dorms after Christian students called their relatives, who gathered outside, prompting Muslim students to do the same. The two groups chanted sectarian slogans.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s mostly Muslim population. Several sectarian disputes have occurred since the uprising last year as a result of Muslim citizens converting to Christianity or vice versa, as well as disagreements over building churches.

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