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February 24th, 2011

Cairo, Egypt – Coptic Christians have  protested in Cairo and in Asyut.

  • Protests broke out in Asyut yesterday night after the funeral of a Coptic Priest, stabbed in his home last Monday, with around 3,000 Copts attacking shops and cars owned by Muslims.
  • Reports vary on the origin of the priest’s murder. Gamaa Islamiyah, a Salafist group that renounced violence years ago, condemned the murder and called for restraint.
  • On Wednesday, 2,000 Copts protested in Cairo against reports that an army unit had destroyed newly built fences around a monastery in the Nitrian Desert earlier in the day.
  • Experts speculate that further attacks may take place on churches and other targets in the Coptic community.
  • Despite underlying tensions in some areas, there had been ample evidence of Copts’ participation in the recent civil uprising and many instances of close relations between members of Egypt’s two main confessions.

Analysts available for comment:

RASHID KHALIDI is Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He is editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies and President of the Middle East Studies Association. He previously served as advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid and Arab-Israeli peace negotiations from 1991-3. He is the author of Sowing Crisis: American Dominance and the Cold War in the Middle East (2009) and The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2006).
Location:  New York, USA
Languages: English, Arabic

is a veteran journalist who has covered the Middle East for American and Arab media for more than thirty years. From 2006 to 2007, he was Washington Bureau Chief for the Al Arabiya TV network, and has previously worked for NBC, The New York Times, and The Jerusalem Star. He currently serves as Professor Emeritus at the American University in Cairo.
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Languages: English
JOEL BEININ is Director of Middle East Studies and Professor of History at the American University in Cairo. He is on extended leave from Stanford University. Professor Beinin’s principal areas of research have been the histories of modern Egypt, Israel and Palestine, radical movements and minorities in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and US policy in the Middle East. He taught Middle East history at Stanford University from 1983 to 2006, including a broad range of courses from the rise of Islam to the present. He subsequently took up his current position as Director of Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo.

Location: Middle East
Languages: Arabic, English

ASEF BAYAT is Professor of Sociology and Middle East Studies at the University of Illinois and Academic Director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam (ISIM) at Leiden University, the Netherlands. He taught sociology and Middle East studies at the American University in Cairo for sixteen years and has held visiting positions at the University of California, Berkeley, Columbia University, New York University, and the University of Oxford. His academic interests include political sociology and social movements, urban space and politics, international development, the contemporary Middle East and Islam. He has conducted ethnographic research in the areas of popular mobilization in the Iranian Revolution, labor movements, politics of the urban poor, development NGOs, comparative Islam, and Muslim youth cultural politics, primarily in Iran and Egypt.

Location: Illinois, USA
Languages: Arabic, English

MONA ELTAHAWY is an award-winning New York-based journalist and commentator, and an international lecturer. Her opinion pieces have appeared frequently in the International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post and the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper and she has also published opeds in The New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Egypt’s al-Dostour and Lebanon’s Daily Star.

Location: New York, USA
Languages: English, Arabic

ROBERT BOWKER is former Australian ambassador to Egypt (2005-8) and Jordan (1989-92). He was also previously stationed in Saudi Arabia and Syria. He currently serves as Adjunct Professor in the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at Australian National University, and is considered a leading expert on social and political issues throughout the region.

Location: Canberra, Australia
Languages: English, Arabic

RENE GUITTON is an author of books, theater and television scripts. Along with his day job, this relentless traveler with a degree in journalism, who studied theology and exegesis, is currently doing research on today’s major monotheistic religions, on philosophy and various schools of thought.

Location: Paris, France
Languages: English, French

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