Muslim Brotherhood Supporters Clash with Police in Egypt, Hundreds Arrested

Supporters of a Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary candidate marching in Alexandria on Friday night, November 19, 2010, encountered Egyptian state security forces as hundreds were arrested during the week.

At least 100 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested in Alexandria, Egypt on Friday, just days before the country’s legislative elections.

Earlier in the week, approximately 600 members of the Brotherhood were arrested.

Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers, often simply الإخوان Al-Ikhwān, The Brotherhood or MB) is an Islamist transnational movement, the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states, and the world’s oldest and largest Islamic political group. The MB was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna.

The Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt, and members have been arrested for their participation in the group. As a means of circumventing the ban, supporters run for office as independents.

Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country with Islam as its state religion. Around 90% are identified as Muslim.

The Egyptian legal system only recognizes three religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. When the Government moved to computerize identification cards, members of religious minorities, such as Bahá’ís, could not obtain identification documents. An Egyptian court ruled in early 2008 that members of other faiths can obtain identity cards without listing their faiths, and without becoming officially recognized.

Egypt hosts two major religious institutions, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria established in the middle of the 1st century by Saint Mark the Evangelist, and Al-Azhar University founded in 970 A.D by the Fatimids as the first Islamic University in Egypt.

A large minority of Christians in Egypt make up between 5% and 20% of the population. Over 90% of Egyptian Christians belong to the native Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, an Oriental Orthodox Church.

Coptic Christians are discriminated against in Egypt and are not represented in government, state security and law enforcement. Copts are usually on the receiving end of anti-Christian hate crimes, which have been increasing since the 1970s. Since President Hosni Mubarak took office in 1981, more than 1,500 violent attacks against Copts have injured and killed thousands of Christians. Violent anti-Christian attacks in Upper Egypt during the 1990s forced thousands of Copts to flee to larger cities in Egypt or to immigrate; a form of unrecognized ethnic cleansing. The last 10 years witnessed a dramatic increase in the scale of anti-Christian hate crimes, including a number of massacres such as the 2001 Kosheh massacre and the 2010 Nag Hammadi massacre.

The 2000 Kosheh Massacre is actually the second massacre after a first massacre in 1998 when two Copts were killed by Muslims after they were falsely accused of poisoning a Muslim that actually had died of natural causes. The Second Kosheh Massacre took place about one year later, beginning on Friday December 31, 1999. The incidence stemmed from a quarrel between a Christian merchant and a Muslim customer. The misunderstanding strained Muslim-Christian relations in the community. Relatives of the Muslim customer targeted Christian-owned shops and homes, which were looted, destroyed, and burned. Initially, the police were able to contain the situation. However, two days later on Sunday January 2, 2000, riots spread violence into neighboring villages and lead to the murders of 21 Christians. One Muslim was also accidentally shot dead by a fellow Muslim

The Nag Hamadi Massacre occurred on the eve of January 7, 2010. The massacre killed 8 Coptic Christian occurred an was committed by Muslim gunmen in front of the Nag Hammadi cathedral, as Coptic Christians were leaving the church in celebration of the midnight Christmas mass according to the Coptic calendar.

After the attack, two other Coptic Christian women were killed in nearby villages when Muslim mobs set their houses on fire. Numerous Coptic businesses were looted and destroyed in the accompanying attacks.

Is the Society of Muslim Brothers involved in Christian persecution?
The case is not closed.