Interior Minister makes inspection tour of Imbaba after violence

Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy visited the churches of Saint Mina and the Virgin Mary in Imbaba, Giza on Sunday after ten people died and 186 were injured in Saturday's violence there.

On seeing the minister, dozens of protesters began chanting slogans criticizing the government's performance, demanding that Essawy take the necessary procedures to secure the area and eliminate thuggery.

Essawy said this was an expected reaction and that he understands the anger about the clashes, which continued for too long. He pledged to restore stability and security, and called on the public to cooperate with police to maintain nationwide security.

He said that security authorities had in fact begun working on Saturday after the cabinet decided to permit the use of the police force against thugs attacking police stations. He added that the security services arrested more than 190 people suspected of being involved in the events and that they would be tried in military courts.

He said his aim was to meet security officials in Imbaba and learn the truth behind Saturday’s events before a cabinet meeting.

Essawy said the clashes continued for more than eight hours, but that the security authorities in coordination with the armed forces successfully took control of the situation and the churches were cordoned off. He added that some 4000 Salafis surrounded the church of Saint Mina for over four hours and attempted to storm the church in search of a girl rumored to have converted to Islam and then held hostage there.

He said that the combined security and armed forces prevented the Salafis from entering the church, but they set the church of the Virgin Mary on fire. Civil defense forces succeeded in extinguishing it with the help of Muslim youth.

Essawi explained that a Muslim man from Sahel Selim district in Assiut married a Christian named Abeer six months ago and was living with her in the city of Banha. Essawy said that she ran away from him, and the young man received a phone call on 3 May from somebody who said that his wife was being held in a building behind the church of Saint Mina in Imbaba. In response to the telephone call, he approached Salafi groups, who attempted to storm the church building.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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