Was the recent shooting of six Copts and a Muslim security guard in the Upper Egyptian town of Nagga Hamadi an isolated incident? Or was the attack indicative of a deep-rooted and escalating problem? To help make sense of these events, Al-Masry Al-Youm has compiled a chronology of sectarian violence in Egypt. This list is being continuously updated.
1972 Clashes erupt between Muslims and Copts in November over the use of a school as a temporary church in Qalyubiya Governorate. Security forces intervene.
1981 Around 17 people are killed in clashes between Muslims and Copts after a rumor that a plot of land allocated to a mosque has been given to a church. The incident is known as el-Zawiya el-Hamra.
1981 President Anwar Sadat puts 170 Christian priests in prison in a crackdown on many of his opponents. Sadat also relieves Pope Shenouda III of his services, after which the pope enters his famous “seclusion phase” in Wadi el-Natroun.
1990 Coptic property is attacked in Minya Governorate in Upper Egypt.
1991 Coptic property is looted and attacked in el-Mounira neighborhood west of Cairo.
1992 Three Copts are murdered by Muslims in Assiut, as property owned by Coptic Christians is destroyed and burned.
1992 Muslim extremists attack a church in Sohag in Upper Egypt and deadly fights between Muslims and Copts ensue.
1994 Two monks are attacked at el-Muharak monastery in Assiut.
1997 Three Christians are murdered in Abu Qarqas in Minya Governorate.
1997 The bodies of three Christians are discovered abandoned in some fields and several Copts are assaulted in a separate incident. The perpetrators of the last two incidents remain unknown. Christian property is also attacked and destroyed.
1998–2000 The city of Sohag in Upper Egypt witnesses some of the fiercest clashes between Muslim and Christians in the village of the Kosheh. The clashes begin with the murder of a Muslim, an incident which spurred a violent backlash against Christians. More than 20 people are killed and more than 1200 Copts are arrested.
2004 Copts protest, with some going on hunger strike over the conversion of Wafaa Constantine, the wife of a clergyman, from Christianity to Islam. Constantine is initially placed under the protection of security forces, but is returned to the church following further protests.
2004 Pope Shenouda again goes into seclusion in Wadi el-Natroun.
2004 A Coptic church in Minya is attacked and 25 people are arrested.
2005 A CD of a church play depicting Prophet Mohamed negatively–and, according to some reports, showing him as an anti-Christ figure–spurs a series of angry protests by Muslims, especially in Alexandria, where the church is based and the CD of the play heavily circulated.
2006 Muslims attack Christians for holding prayers in an “unauthorized” church in Udayssat near Luxor on the eve of Epiphany services.
2006 Four churches in Alexandria are attacked by a knife-wielding Muslim. The attacker stabs and kills a 78-year-old Coptic man. The government later says that the attacker was “mentally deranged.” Riots ensue for several weeks as Muslims and Christians burn each others’ shops and attacking businesses. During the funeral of the murdered Copt, Muslims reportedly pelt the funeral with stones. The church fails to control its youth, who clash with Muslims using batons and sticks.
2007 Muslims burn down at least 25 houses, in addition to shops, belonging to Christians in the village of Bamha on the outskirts of Giza. The Christians are accused of holding prayers in an unauthorized church. A dozen Copts are injured and 59 Muslims are arrested.
2007 In Alexandria a fight between two children, the son of a Christian and the son of a mosque imam, escalates into sectarian clashes.
2007 A romance between a Christian man and a Muslim woman in Alexandria leads to Christians and Muslims rioting, brawling, attacking each other with broken glass, throwing stones at each others’ property, and destroying public property in protest of the “scandalous” affair.
2008 Copts in the monastery of Saint Fana (Abu Fana), including monks, are attacked in January in Minya. The Muslim gang destroys property.