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Egypt: 13 Killed, 140 Injured in Violent Christian-Muslim Clashes

At least 13 people were killed and another 140 injured when Muslims and Coptic Christians clashed in Cairo on Tuesday. Members of both religious groups were killed in the violence which began when Copts protested the burning of a local church.

According to the BBC, the violence erupted when Coptic protesters blocked a highway, prompting angry Muslims trying to pass through. Witnesses said both sides hurled stones and members of the army fired into the air in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

The country's Sunni authority has urged Muslims to help rebuild the destroyed church, calling its destruction non-Islamic:

The Grand Imam of al-Azhar issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the attack on the church in Atfih, Hilwan governorate, as "a distortion of Islam".

Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyib called on Muslim residents of the town to help start rebuilding the church and to refrain from sectarian violence, Egypt's official news agency, Mena, reported.

Meanwhile, thousands of Coptic protesters continued their sit-in outside the state television building. They are calling for the rebuilding of the church, better protection for Christians, and a full investigation into last week's attack.

Coptic Christians comprise about 10 percent of Egypt's population and have often complained of harassment and discrimination in the past.  In January, a suicide bomber killed 23 people worshiping at a Coptic church in Alexandria.  In addition, an Egyptian man received a death sentence for killing six Copts and a Muslim policeman in the country's southern region.

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