Military says it will not end Coptic sit-in by force

The military has told Copts protesting in front of the Egyptian state television building that it would not end their sit-in by force, according to state-run TV. 

State-run TV reported on its website that Bishop Mitas Nasr, who is leading the sit-in, conveyed the military's message to the protesters and warned them against spreading rumors.

Rumors had circulated that military police on Monday forced street vendors to leave the area to make room for passersby, raising demonstrators' fears that security forces were preparing to disperse the group.

The military reportedly pledged to protect Copts, not assault them, and said the rumor was aimed to intimidate protesters. 

Nasr said he met with the interior minister’s assistant and head of Central Security. They confirmed the ministry does not intend to forcibly end the sit-in, he said.

Nasr also said he would blame the ministry and the military for any future attacks on protesters.

The 11-day demonstration began in reaction to sectarian clashes on 7 May in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba, which killed 15 and left more than 200 injured.

Eyewitnesses said Muslim families are also taking part in the sit-in.

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