This article was first published by The Telegraph:
Violent clashes have erupted outside a Cairo cathedral after a Coptic funeral march came under attack, leaving one dead and at least 66 people injured.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of mourners had gathered to mark the death of four Coptic Christians killed in sectarian clashes on Friday night.
The emotional memorial service turned into a protest against President Mohamned Morsi’s Islamist-led government, whom mourners accused of failing to protect Egypt’s Coptic community.
Crowds chanted “Egypt is our country and we will not leave it” and “the blood of Christians is not cheap. Morsi, you villain”.
After the mourners left St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo’s Abbiseya district, local residents are reported to have pelted attendees with stones. Members of the predominantly Coptic crowd responded in kind, and gunfire was exchanged outside the cathedral grounds.
As night fell, crowds traded rock fire and molotov cocktails with Copts gathered inside the grounds of the building. The gates to the compound remained shut, opening only to ambulances and those who could prove their Coptic identity by flashing crucifix tattoos at the gatesmen.
Scores within the crowd later sought to minimise tensions, chanting “Muslims and Christians are one hand”.
Friday’s deadly violence, which left at least five people dead, was triggered when a group of young Christians spray painted crucifixes on the outside wall of an Islamic institute in El Khusus, a town north of Cairo.
Egypt’s Coptic community makes up about 10 per cent of the country’s 84 million population. Despite Mr Morsi’s election promise to protect the country’s religious minorities, Copts continue to report a rise in ostensibly sectarian attacks.
This is the most serious bout of violence to occur since Mr Morsi and his Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) came to power in June last year.
Speaking on Sunday night, FJP spokesman Waleed el Haddad condemned the violence at Abbiseya and called for the country’s police to protect religious institutions.
“We are against tonight’s violence out on the streets. It is time for the Ministry of the Interior to do something to protect religious buildings and we condemn all protests that take place outside them. These are institutions that must not be politicised.” In a statement, Coptic Pope Tawadros expressed deep regret over the night’s events and emphasised that he was in constant contact with the government and the interior ministry.