Egypt's Christians protest and pray after Christian murdered and building torched

A damaged home belonging to one of seven Christian families, whose houses were looted and set on fire by Muslim men, at Al-Karm village in the southern province of Minya in an earlier attack in May this year.Reuters

Christians in Egypt joined in prayers and protests after a Christian man was murdered and three others injured, including one woman.

Mourners met at church to pray for the dead and then marched to the graveyard chanting: "With blood and soul, we redeem the cross."

Muslim adults attacked priests with batons and knives after an argument between Muslim and Christian children in Tahna al-Gabal village over who had right of way in a street.

Bishop Makarios of MinyaReuters

Bishop Makarios of Minya, a Coptic Orthodox cleric in Egypt's Minya governorate, issued a brief statement on the attack, the latest of several anti-Christian attacks in Egypt's southern province of Minya.

Makarios, who himself survived an assassination attempt in 2013 after Muslims believed he was intending to reopen a church that had been closed, said the families of two priests in the Tahna El-Jabal village were set upon by attackers wielding knives and batons.

The murdered man Fam Khalef was aged just 27. 

It is not clear whether he is related to the priests who were the targets of the attack.

Ahram Online reported that Emad Nabil, a local lawyer, was quoted in a Christian forum as saying that police had arrested four people.

In a separate incident, five buildings including a children's nursery were torched by Muslims who feared they were to be used as Christian houses. At least 15 suspects were arrested.

Al-Azhar, the country's top Sunni Muslim authority, called on both sides to resort to remain within the law and not succumb to temptation to "sow discord and ignite sectarian strife." A group of Muslim and Christian leaders from the reconciliation group Family House has been sent to the village to try and restore harmony.

Christians make up about one in ten of Egypt's population of 90 million mainly Sunni Muslims. Attacks on them have been growing in recent years and in May, there was an arson attack on seven Christian homes. A Christian man's elderly mother was forced to parade naked in the streets in the same province.