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Cablegate: New Outbreak of Christian-Muslim Fighting in Alexandria

VZCZCXYZ0010
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEGA #1775 1621422
ZNR UUUUU ZZH ZUI RUEWMCF3791 1621423
P 111422Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0000
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS CAIRO 001775

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF PGOV EG
SUBJECT: NEW OUTBREAK OF CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM FIGHTING IN ALEXANDRIA

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) CLASHES BROKE OUT OVER THE WEEKEND BETWEEN COPTIC
CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS IN THE VILLAGE OF ABDEL QADER, WEST OF
ALEXANDRIA, AFTER A PERSONAL DISPUTE BETWEEN TWO VILLAGERS ERUPTED
INTO A WIDER CONFLICT. THE SITUATION REMAINED TENSE THE MORNING OF
JUNE 11, ACCORDING TO CHURCH OFFICIALS, WITH GOE SECURITY PERSONNEL
RESTRICTING ENTRY TO THE VILLAGE AND SURROUNDING THE LOCAL MAKESHIFT
CHURCH.

2. (SBU) PRESS REPORTS AND CHURCH OFFICIALS INDICATE THAT TROUBLE
BEGAN FRIDAY, JUNE 8 AFTER A CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM INHABITANT OF THE
VILLAGE SCUFFLED AFTER A DISPUTE. THE INVOLVED PARTIES TOOK THEIR
DISPUTE TO THE POLICE, WHO REPORTEDLY INTERVENED TO SOLVE THE
PROBLEM, BUT HOURS LATER A GROUP OF MUSLIMS STORMED INTO CHRISTIAN
HOMES AND ATTEMPTED TO ATTACK THE VILLAGE CHURCH, WHICH IS HOUSED IN
A NON-DESCRIPT BUILDING THAT SERVES NOMINALLY AS A COPTIC "SERVICE
CENTER." SEVERAL WINDOWS OF THE CHURCH WERE BROKEN BUT THERE WAS NO
INTERNAL DAMAGE. CROWDS OF MUSLIMS HAVE REPORTEDLY CONTINUED TO
CONGREGATE AROUND THE CHURCH SINCE THE INCIDENTS BEGAN CHANTING "GOD
IS GREAT" AND "THERE IS NO GOD BUT GOD," AS GOE SECURITY OFFICERS
HOLD THEM AT BAY.

3. (SBU) CHURCH OFFICIALS REPORT THAT NINE CHRISTIANS WERE INJURED
IN THE INITIAL CLASHES, EACH OF WHOM WAS LATER ARRESTED BY LOCAL
POLICE. THEY REMAIN IN DETENTION, AS DO FOUR MUSLIM INHABITANTS OF
THE VILLAGE. CHURCH OFFICIALS FEAR THE PROSPECT OF FURTHER VIOLENCE
IN THE VILLAGE, AS FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE WOUNDED CHRISTIANS FROM
UPPER EGYPT ARE REPORTEDLY EAGER TO TRAVEL TO THE VILLAGE TO AVENGE
THE VIOLENCE.

4. (SBU) THE VILLAGE OF ABDEL QADER IS LOCATED ON THE WESTERN
OUTSKIRTS OF ALEXANDRIA NEAR AMREYAH, AN AREA OF UNPLANNED "SUBURBS"
HOUSING RECENT MIGRANTS TO THE CITY, MOSTLY FROM UPPER EGYPT.
CHRISTIANS IN THESE AREAS ARE OFTEN UNABLE TO GAIN APPROVAL FOR THE
CONSTRUCTION OF FREE-STANDING CHURCHES, THUS MUST MAKE DO FOR CHURCH
SERVICES INSIDE OTHER, NON-DESCRIPT STRUCTURES. ONE COPTIC PRIEST
CONTACTED BY APP ALEXANDRIA PRINCIPAL OFFICER EXPRESSED DEEP CONCERN
THAT THE TRADITIONS OF UPPER EGYPT COULD PREVAIL IN THIS CASE,
WHEREIN VIOLENCE REQUIRES REVENGE. COPTS ARE URGING GOE SECURITY
FORCES TO RELEASE THE NINE DETAINED CHRISTIANS AND TO DEAL WITH THE
SITUATION FIRMLY TO AVOID FURTHER CLASHES BETWEEN THE COMMUNITIES.


5. THIS IS AN APP ALEXANDRIA MESSAGE.

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