Muslims, Christians Clash in Southern Egypt Over Alleged Sexual Assault of 6-year-old Girl

Police have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Muslim protesters outside a church in southern Egypt. They were demanding an investigation into allegations a Christian man sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl.

Pictured: Egyptian Coptic Christians stop a man trying to throw a stone during clashes in front of the state television building where they protest recent attacks on Christians and churches in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, May 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Residents in the city of Qena say four stores owned by Coptic Christians were torched overnight after villagers accused one of the store owners of molesting the young girl.

The clashes took place in the village of Marashda in Qena.

Residents say protesters threw stones at the local church on Friday, and police fired tear gas to scatter the crowd.

Qena security director Gen. Salah Mazid was quoted in state media saying that police are investigating the accusations against the merchant.

Flare-ups of violence between Egypt's Christian minority and Muslims have increased in the past two years.

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