Egypt Warns of 'Iron Fist' After Religious Clash
Sectarian violence threatens democratic change in Egypt
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted May 9, 2011 1:18 AM CDT
Egyptian Coptic Christians carry the coffin of a victim of sectarian clashes during a funeral in Cairo yesterday.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Egyptian officials warned yesterday that an "iron fist" will enforce national security in the wake of violent clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo that left 12 dead and nearly 200 wounded. Some 190 people arrested will face military trials in a special "deterrent" against further violence, and laws will be enforced allowing the death penalty for violence near places of worship. "The government's hand is not shaking. The government is not weak," said justice minister Aziz al-Gindi.

He added that police, the military and citizens are "standing together to foil the counter-revolution." Weekend violence erupted after hundreds of Muslims gathered outside a Coptic Christian church following rumors that a Christian woman was being held against her will there for marrying a Muslim—reports the woman has denied. Firebombs and rocks were hurled in the melee, shots were fired and two churches were torched. Such sectarian clashes threaten the nation's delicate path toward a new democratic government, notes the BBC.