WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) is alarmed by recent reports of clashes between police officers and hundreds of Coptic Christians on Tuesday in the town of Samalout in Minya province, Egypt. At least 33 demonstrators were arrested and three police allegedly wounded as a result of the violence.
According to reports, protesters had gathered in front of a police station to demand help in locating a Coptic woman who went missing two weeks ago. For reasons that remain unclear, clashes soon broke out between protesters and police. An individual who claims to have spoken with an eyewitness about the incident reported on Twitter (AR) that the demonstration was peaceful until someone fired a gun, creating panic and chaos, which led to fights between police and protesters.
In a video posted to YouTube, professed witnesses and victims allege that following the clashes, police entered civilians’ homes and physically abused them and destroyed their property. If true, these accounts are exceptionally alarming in light of already-heightened concerns about the safety of religious minorities. The increased violence, intimidation, and kidnappings that Copts have faced in recent years is also compounded by inadequate police protections for religious minorities and a failure by the police to fully investigate crimes against them.
TIMEP calls upon the Egyptian government to uphold its constitutional and international legal obligations to protect the safety of its citizens and non-citizen residents by more adequately responding to violence against religious minorities and holding fully accountable the perpetrators of such crimes.
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The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of democratic transitions in the Middle East through analysis, advocacy, and action.