October 11th, 2011
08:47 AM ET

Q and A: Coptic Christians

By Dave Gilbert, CNN

London (CNN) - Violence has returned to the streets of Cairo - this time in fresh confrontations between army forces and pro-Coptic Christian protesters.

Accounts of the casualties vary but an Egyptian health ministry spokesman told CNN that 25 people had been killed and more than 272 injured during the weekend protests that were sparked by the burning of a Coptic Christian church in southern Egypt.

There has been long-standing tension between Egypt's Coptic Christians and Muslims but CNN's Ben Wedeman says that since this year's revolution that removed the former President Hosni Mubarak there have been more of these clashes.

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has tried to deal with the tension by organizing a committee made up of representatives from Coptic Christians, Muslims, the military and government but Wedeman reports that some members have now suspended cooperation or quit over the government's handling of the situation.

State TV reported that Ahmed al-Tayyeb, a prominent Egyptian Muslim leader and grand imam of Al-Azhar, has also been reaching out to Coptic church leaders in hopes of containing the crisis.

CNN examines the background to the renewed violence.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Coptic • Egypt

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