Hundreds of Coptic Christians staged a protest outside Egypt's parliament in Cairo on Sunday over the "forcible displacement" of Copt families from a village after reports of an affair between a Christian Man and Muslim woman began to circulate.
“What happened is a national disgrace," Copt activist Hani Ramsis told Gulf News. "The people forced to leave the village have no link to the man accused of having an affair with the Muslim girl.”
Eight Coptic families were evicted from the village of Sharbat in Alexandria in late January under a deal arranged by village leaders in Sharbat to allay Muslim anger, state news reported.
Muslim villagers reportedly damaged houses and stores owned by local Copts after footage showing the Coptic man and the Muslim women were circulated among mobile users in the area.
Ramsis accused the ruling military council and the Islamist-dominated parliament of pursuing an anti-Coptic policy purportedly adopted by the regime of the now-ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
“This is a phenomenon, not a single incident,” Copt lawmaker Emad Jad told Gulf News. "There is deliberate insistence on sidelining the power of the law and leaving such issues for local people to resolve through reconciliation sessions.”
Jad said he had requested the newly-elected Islamist-dominated parliament to discuss the incident and that parliament’s Human Rights Committee agreed to probe the incident.
“This issue is underlined by two crimes: collective punishment and arbitrary emigration, which threaten to give rise to demographic discrimination in Egypt,” Jad reportedly told his fellow lawmakers.
"Punishment for crimes should muted against persons and should not be collective; punishment cannot be extended to a member of his family or his relatives," Farid said.
Potential presidential contender Amr Mousa Monday denounced the incident as “unacceptable under any circumstances”.
“The executive authorities should take all necessary measures to prevent its recurrence now or in the future,” he added in his twitter feed.
The row comes more than four months after 27 people, mostly Copts, were killed in clashes with army troops in Cairo during a protest over the destruction of a church in Upper Egypt.