Egypt: Islamists protest election of Coptic Christian governor


Egyptian Coptic Christians gather outside the state radio and television headquarters in Cairo on March 13, 2011, to demand the rebuilding of a church that was set ablaze, sparking deadly clashes between Muslims and Christians.


Mahmud Hams

A newly appointed Coptic Christian governor is being protested by hardline Islamists in Egypt who insist the government remove him.

The protesters in the southern city of Qena say the new governor will not properly implement Shariah or Islamic law, reports the Associated Press. They have been holding a sit-in for the past five days and have blocked off major roads and a railway track.

The protesters are mainly from the ultraconservative Salafi trend of Islam, it states.

"They started out by camping at the local government's office. Then they set up a tent on the railroad tracks," resident Wafy Nasr told AP. "They also tried to block the road and stopped buses to separate men and women passengers."

Demonstrations began Friday after the governor, Emad Mikhail, was appointed, AFP reports. Mikhail was a senior police officer under the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

It states that Christian Coptics, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population, joined with the Islamist groups and Muslims to protest the new governor and his connection to Mubarak's regime.

The minister of the interior Mansour El-Eissawy made a visit to the region and tried to calm the protesters but failed to do so.

Islamist groups have pushed to take a more prominent role in Egypt since a popular uprising pushed Mubarak from power in February.

Egypt's Christians have been the target of attacks and have accused the authorities of discrimination.