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Egypt Update: Security Forces Continue Sweep; Egyptian Christian Churches Targeted by Islamists

By: AP
By: AP

EGYPT
CAIRO (AP) -- Egyptian security forces have stormed a Cairo mosque and rounded up hundreds of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
The protesters and armed men had barricaded themselves in the mosque. They had sought refuge there on Friday, trying to escape angry vigilantes and avoid arrest on a day of violence that left 173 people dead.
Security officials say officers raided the Ramses Square mosque Saturday out of fears the Muslim Brotherhood intended to set up an encampment there.
Hundreds of people have died in days of violence that began on Wednesday, when riot police, military helicopters, snipers and bulldozers broke up two sit-ins by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
The government now says it's considering banning Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. The group had been outlawed for decades before it was swept to power a year ago in the country's first democratic elections.

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood says a son of its spiritual leader was killed during fierce clashes in downtown Cairo, as hundreds of Islamists supporters of the country's ousted president remained barricaded inside a mosque.
The group's political arm said on its official website Saturday that Mohammed Badei's son Ammar was killed Friday. That's when the Muslim Brotherhood took to the streets in a "Day of Rage" -- ignited by anger at security forces over clearing two sit-in camps earlier in the week, leaving hundreds dead.
Meanwhile, hundreds remained inside the al-Fatah mosque in Cairo on Saturday morning after barricading themselves inside overnight. A Muslim cleric there said there were ongoing negotiations with the military to have protesters safely leave.

EGYPT-TARGETING CHRISTIANS
CAIRO (AP) -- In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps of supporters of Egypt's ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority.
The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.
Christians have long suffered from discrimination and violence in Muslim majority Egypt but attacks increased after the Islamists rose to power in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Christians have come further under fire since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted on July 3.
Egyptian scholar Samuel Tadros says Islamists enraged by the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi have attacked more than 50 churches, destroying at least 20 and setting many of them on fire.
Tadros, a Research Fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, says Wednesday appears to have been the worst single day of violence against Egypt's Coptic church since the 14th century.
He says the Muslim Brotherhood blames Christians for ousting Morsi so it can paint the military-backed government as anti-Islamic.
Tadros says the Coptic pope has gone into hiding, and many surviving churches have canceled Sunday services as Christians huddle in their homes, fearing for their lives.
Many Morsi supporters say Christians played a disproportionately large role in the days of mass rallies, with millions demanding that he step down ahead of his removal.


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