Egypt Islamists vow to protect churches on Christmas

In January 2010, six Copts were shot dead as they emerged from a Coptic Christmas Eve mass.

Cairo: Egypt`s powerful Muslim Brotherhood
said on Wednesday it would protect churches during Coptic Christmas
in January in a bid to prevent deadly attacks on Christian
places of worship.

"We have decided to form Muslim Brotherhood committees to
protect the churches so that the hands of sin do not ruin the
festivities like they did several times under the old regime,"
the group said in a statement.

It urged the ruling military council, which took power
when a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak in February, to
help secure the churches.

"We call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and
the police to protect the churches in the same way they
protected polling stations during the elections," the
Brotherhood said.

Last year, more than 20 people were killed in an apparent
suicide bombing as hundreds of worshippers were leaving the
Al-Qidissin (The Saints) church in the Mediterranean city of
Alexandria after a New Year`s eve mass.

In January 2010, six Copts were shot dead as they emerged
from a Coptic Christmas Eve mass. A Muslim security guard was
also killed in the shooting.

Coptic Christians, who make up around 10 percent of
Egypt`s 82 million population, have been the target of
frequent attacks and complain of systematic discrimination.

The Middle East`s largest Christian community has also
become increasingly concerned about the rise of Islamists`
political influence since the uprising that toppled Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood`s political arm, the Freedom and
Justice Party, has so far emerged as the front-runner in the
first post-revolution legislative elections.

The largest party belonging to the more hardline Salafi
movements, Al-Nur, has come a close runner-up in the first two
rounds of polling.


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