CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Police have arrested 15 people after clashes between Muslims and Christians in a village south of the capital, police officials said Tuesday.
Police cordoned off Ezzbat Wassif on Tuesday and mounted patrols in the village, searching for people involved in Monday’s fighting as well as ensuring calm, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the press.
Villagers fought with sticks and stones, leaving at least 11 people wounded, one seriously, said residents who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. Police, however, said only six people were injured but confirmed that one was in serious condition in hospital.
Rioters managed to set three houses on fire before police restored order.
The clashes apparently began when Muslims objected to a community hall that Christians were building, taking it to be a church. Under Egyptian law, government permission is required to build a church.
Police are questioning the 15 detainees about the clashes. Last month, an attempt to turn a guest house into an informal church in a southern Egyptian town provoked clashes among Coptic Christians, Muslims and police in which one person was killed and at least 11 wounded.
Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Egypt’s 72 million people. They generally live in peace with the Muslim majority, but complain of discrimination in the job market, particularly in the upper ranks of the civil service.