- Demonstrators marched to commemorate other Coptics killed in clashes last month
- The marchers were headed to Tahrir Square
(CNN) — Hundreds of Coptics marching in Cairo Thursday were attacked by unknown assailants.
Thirty-two people were injured including two police officers, according to Dr. Adel Al Dawi, a ministry of health spokesman. Except for one badly injured girl who remained hospitalized late Thursday, those injured were treated for minor bruises and cuts.
The marchers were heading to Cairo’s Tahrir Square to commemorate the deaths of pro-Coptic protesters killed in clashes in the Egyptian capital last month.
Coptic Christians, an ancient sect, make up about 9% of Egypt’s largely Muslim population, according to the U.S. State Department. Problems between Egypt’s Muslim majority and its Coptic Christian minority have been on the rise in recent months, with a number of violent clashes reported between the two groups.
Thursday’s march was organized by the Free Copts Movements and the Blood of Martyrs movement, two of many new groups formed after clashes that took place on October 9 in the Cair neighborhood of Maspero leaving 26 dead and 300 injured.
“We were marching peacefully with candles to commemorate the 26 martyrs of Maspero on the 40-day anniversary of the Maspero attacks, when several youth clashed,” said Sherif Doss, the head of the Egyptian Coptic Association.
“Some residents started throwing rocks and glass bottles from the rooftops of buildings at the crowds, which left many injured,” Doss added.
“Hundreds of police conscripts assigned by the ministry of interior to protect the march started firing tear gas canisters to stop the clashes between the unidentified men,” Sameh Mina a Coptic protester, told CNN.
“The Copts defended themselves and threw rocks back at the attackers until the police intervened,” Mina added.
It is an Egyptian tradition to commemorate the dead on the 40th day after death.
Thursday’s clashes came a day before a “million-man” protest scheduled for Friday in Tahrir Square against the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.