- (Reuters/Jumana El Heloueh)
Egypt’s Finance Minister has stepped down over Coptic Christian protests that turned violent, leaving 26 dead on Sunday. Egypt's finance minister Hazem el-Beblawi, who is also Egypt’s deputy prime minister, was appointed by the ruling military council earlier this year.
The ruling military council is temporarily in charge of Egypt while elections are organized following President Hosni Mubarak’s ousting earlier this year. The same council has ordered an inquiry into the violence that occurred Sunday.
According to state news agency Mena, Beblawi said: "Despite the fact that there might not be direct responsibility on the government's part, responsibility lies, ultimately, with the government."
He continued: "The current circumstances are very difficult and require a new and different way of thinking and working."
The members of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt have started a three-day fast to mourn those killed in the protests. Christians in the United States are also observing a three-day mourning period, which began today, to honor the 26 killed in the violent clashes.
Fighting erupted in Cairo Sunday when Christians gathered to protest against the Sept. 30 burning of a Coptic church in Southern Aswan.
Although intended to be peaceful, violence broke out when military personnel commenced a crackdown on the protest.
Mourners are blaming the Egyptian army for the high death toll, arguing that the Christian march on Sunday was absolutely peaceful until the military started a crackdown. Reportedly, in the ensuing clashes, Islamic extremists joined the attacks against the Christians and a military vehicle was allegedly driven directly into crowds of protesters.