Egypt: Islamists hit Christian churches

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.

Nearly 40 churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged since Wednesday, when chaos erupted after Egypt’s military-backed interim government moved in to clear two camps of protesters calling for Morsi’s reinstatement, killing scores of protesters and sparking deadly clashes nationwide.

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 the coup.

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