Notice the pattern of conflict escalation, the role of religion, the focus on sexuality, women and the boundaries of group power, all focused on women, and all rather removed from any real spiritual matters. This is a classic example of religious rioting.
Like many recent episodes of Muslim-Christian violence here, the strife began over rumors of an interfaith marriage. Muslims in the neighborhood said a former Christian had left the church and married a Muslim. They said they had heard that she had been abducted and detained inside the church of St. Minas against her will, reflecting a pattern of accusations that has recurred in several recent episodes of sectarian conflict.
Christians in the neighborhood said that the story was a fiction, that there was no such woman in the church.
Both Muslims and Christians involved in the fighting said that early Saturday evening a relatively small group of Muslims had approached the St. Minas church to ask about the purported abduction. Two young Christian men said they had heard reports that a group of Salafis were headed toward the church, so they had quickly gathered along with a group of as many as 400 or 500 to defend it. At about 6:00 p.m., one man said, their large group of hundreds of Christians faced a Muslim group of only 20.
But within about an hour, a similarly large group of young Muslim men gathered in opposition. By 8 p.m., shots had been fired from a rooftop or balcony. The security forces soon arrived and fired tear gas to break up the melee. But clashes involving clubs, knives, bricks and occasional gunshots continued until at least 4 a.m., exacerbated by an electrical blackout.