Protesters in Egypt urge Muslim-Christian unity
CAIRO—Hundreds of protesters marched Friday from Egypt's pre-eminent mosque to a central Cairo cathedral in a show of Muslim-Christian unity after a bloody clash earlier this week involving Coptic Christian protesters and the military.
Demonstrators chanted slogans against the country's military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who has increasingly become the focus of activists' anger during the bumpy transition following Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February.
A crowd of onlookers threw rocks at the demonstrators outside Al-Azhar mosque, the most important center of learning in Sunni Islam. But the group of Muslims and Christians was undeterred and marched on toward the cathedral before heading to Tahrir Square and a nearby boulevard along the Nile where Sunday's clashes took place.
The distrust between pro-democracy activists and the military council, which is leading the country's transitional period until presidential elections expected in 2012, deepened after the clashes.
Twenty-six people were killed in the confrontation between Coptic Christians, the military and others who joined the mayhem. Most of the dead were Copts, who had been protesting an attack on a church.
Coptic Christians, who represent about 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million, say they are treated like second-class citizens and that repeated attacks on them go unpunished.
In his Friday prayer sermon, Al-Azhar's imam called on Egyptians to protect the country's military from attacks by protesters. Participants in the protest march said the remarks could heighten tensions.