Christian Kills Muslim – Egyptians Fear Growing Religious Tensions

A Christian killed a Muslim local Monday, but sources have claimed that the incident is unrelated to Egypt's historic elections.

Despite increased religious tensions as the country waits in limbo for the post-Hosni Mubarak elections to unfold, officials have denied that the killing was in any way related to the historic parliamentary events. The Washington Post reported that, "The conflict was about the building of a wall."

The military, which has been in power since Mubarak stood down, is said to have intervened to calm the violence.

South Egyptian Muslims are said to have retaliated by targeting local Coptic Christians, which has further fueled on-going religious tensions.

A growing number of religious hate crimes have been reported in Egypt particularly since anti-government protests erupted earlier this year. According to news site, one example of the violent attacks "occurred at a midnight mass marking the beginning of 2011 when a homemade bomb exploded at the front of the al-Qiddissin (Saints) Church. Twenty-three worshippers died and nearly 100 were injured.”

Egypt, which has a dominantly Muslim population, also has a small Christian population who are reportedly terrified about how their future will pan out after elections because the conservative Salafi party is expected to win.

News site Voice Of America (VOA) interviewed ‘Said,’ one of Egypt’s Coptic Christians who explained that, “Coptic Christians do not have the same rights as other people in the country, and that others look down on them as if they are not human.”

He added, “Discrimination was institutionalized under the old government, with restrictions on church construction and the ability to change one's faith. The current military government has proved no better, he says, cracking down on a Coptic protest march last month, in a violent night that left 25 people dead.”

One Egyptian woman expressed her fears of the conservative party winning. She explained that Christian women like herself could also be forced to cover up as the Muslim women do, with those who do no obey likely to be punished.

Sources say the voter turnout on day one of the elections was exceptionally high, with historic crowds of Egyptians lining up for hours to vote.