Reuters blog archive
(Photo: Riot police stand guard near the Orthodox church in Alexandria, Egypt bombed during Orthodox Christmas Mass, January 6, 2011/Asmaa Waguih)
An Egyptian state security court on Sunday sentenced a Muslim man to death for killing six Coptic Christians and a Muslim police officer in a drive-by shooting on Coptic Christmas Eve in January 2010.
Mohamed Ahmed Hussein, 39, known as Hamam Kamouni, had been charged with the "premeditated murder" of the Christians and the police officer and with "intimidating citizens" in Nagaa Hamady in southern Egypt after mass on the eve of Coptic Christmas.
The judge said Hussein's sentence would be sent to the Grand Mufti for confirmation, a reference to Egypt's top religious authority who is called on to confirm death sentences.
The court said Hussein's two accomplices, Kurashi Abu Haggag and Hindawi Muhammed Sayyid, who were charged with aiding in the murder and possession of weapons, would be announced on February 20.
At a Christian-Muslim conference in Geneva this week, participants agreed to build a network for "peace teams" to intervene in crises where religious differences are invoked as the cause of the dispute. The idea is that religious differences may not be the real problem in a so-called religious conflict, but rather a means to mobilise the masses in a dispute that actually stems from political or economic rivalries. (Photo: Coffins of two of 52 killed in al-Qaeda-linked attack last Sunday on a Baghdad church, 2 Nov 2010/Thaier al-Sudani)
If outside experts could help disentangle religion from the other issues, the argument goes, that could help neutralise religion's capacity to mobilise and inflame, in the hope of leading to a de-escalation of the crisis.
Church towers standing in the shadow of mosques symbolise how Christians in the southern town of Nagaa Hamady feel about their relationship with Egypt's Muslim majority that turned violent this month.
from Raw Japan:
In the minds of many people, religious rivalry could occasionally be expected to spill over into violence in places as diverse as the occupied West Bank or Glasgow's 'Old Firm' football derby.
Japan's Kansai region, home to the world's most renowned Zen gardens and some of the country's finest cuisine, on the other hand, is not generally seen as a tinderbox of religious tension.