Kristen Chick
The Christian Science Monitor
May 9, 2011

An attack by Muslims on two churches in Cairo led to sectarian clashes that claimed at least 12 lives, a reminder that Egypt’s religious rift has continued to widen since the successful uprising that pushed Hosni Mubarak from power.

The violence in the Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba, declared in the 1990’s to be “liberated” from the Egyptian state by Islamist militants, also highlights the growing role the salafis, a small and strident Muslim sect, are playing in exacerbating sectarian tensions. The salafi strain of Islam, which feeds most militant Sunni movements, was publicly repressed under Mubarak and has been taking advantage of the more open environment since his downfall.

“There is no security in Egypt,” says Rober, a 23-year member of the Virgin Mary church, which was largely reduced to a smoldering hulk after it was set alight Saturday night. He stood in a burned-out stairway and watched as a woman walked past, weeping. “This is only the beginning. I’m afraid for my sister, for my mother, from the salafis.”

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