Chairman of the leftist Tagammu Party Rifaat al-Saeed accused Salafi groups of being responsible for the sectarian strife that has recently affected Egypt.
During a symposium held at Zagazig University in the Nile Delta, Saeed accused the Salafi groups "now existing in the political arena in Egypt of terrorizing Egyptians and raising their concern for the future.”
Saeed demanded that a criminal penalty be imposed on anyone engaging in behavior that distinguishes between citizens on the basis of religion. He also demanded a unified law for the construction of places of worship. He said this would guarantee the end of sectarian strife resulting from a lack of awareness and discrimination.
Fifteen people were killed and more than 240 injured in clashes between Copts and Salafi Muslims in the Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba on Saturday.
According to a report issued on Wednesday by the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), "thugs" were involved in starting the attack on the Coptic community, although the report stopped short of claiming that the attack had been premeditated.
The report also blames security forces for their sluggish response to unfolding events. According to the report, assailants targeting the Coptic community walked 2 km between the Mar Mina Church and the Virgin Mary Church, carrying shotguns, knives and Molotov cocktails, without being stopped by the police. It also said the Virgin Mary Church was set on fire amid a total absence of security.
The NCHR issued a statement calling the incident a violation of human rights conventions and a deliberate attempt to disrupt the achievements of the 25 January revolution and the process of national development.
Meanwhile, the Jama’at al-Daawa al-Salafiya, the largest Salafi group in Egypt, condemned the Imbaba clashes and denied any involvement in the events. In a statement, the group emphasized on the importance of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Translated from the Arabic Edition