Just a week earlier, Amnesty International reported on a recent increase in tensions in Wasta (about one hundred kilometers south of Cairo), highlighting the vulnerability of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the largest religious minority in the country.
A 2011 Pew Research report noted that government restrictions in Egypt were very high and that "many of the restrictions in Egypt were directed at Coptic Christians, who form one of the largest Christian populations in the Middle East and North Africa." While President Morsi's office condemned the recent violence, Al-Jazeera reports that confrontations between Muslims and Copts have increased in Egypt since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Egypt is not the only country experiencing sectarian violence. According to a 2012 Pew Research study, acts of sectarian violence occurred in more than 1-in-8 countries worldwide in the year ending in mid-2010, the latest year for which data are available, up from fewer than 1-in-10 just several years earlier.
Other recent acts of sectarian violence include:
- More than 12,000 Muslim Rohingyas were displaced in Burma (Myanmar) in March due to ongoing sectarian conflict with the Buddhist-majority population.
- As an extension of the tensions in Burma, a deadly clash in Indonesia occurred between Burmese Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas being held at an immigration detention center on April 5.
- Shia Muslims in Pakistan continue to be targets of sectarian attacks in the Sunni Muslim-majority country.
For more information on the rising tide of social hostilities involving religion and government restrictions on religion around the world, see the 2012 report by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.