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Rights group urges Egypt President to address sectarian violence

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called upon Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Wednesday to do more to address violence between religious groups. Nadim Houry, deputy director for Middle East and North Africa at HRW, released the statement [press release] in response to violence between Muslims and Coptic Christians in the town of Khosus that resulted in the deaths of five Christians and one Muslim. HRW claims this type of sectarian violence is rarely investigated adequately. Because of this, Houry called on Morsi to recognize the core issues that cause the violence and do more to address the problem before it escalates. According to HRW, an important part of addressing this problem is reforming Egypt's laws that discriminate against Christians. Houry continued in calling for Morsi to force the police to carry out proper investigations to insure those responsible are found and dealt with justly.

Egypt has been plagued by continuing protests and violence since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder]. In February human rights organizations alleged [JURIST report] that Egypt's Ministry of Interior [official website, in Arabic] is responsible for police brutality. Earlier in February, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized [JURIST report] Egypt's draft law on demonstrations for failure to adequately protect freedom of assembly. In late January the UN High Commission for Human Rights voiced concern [JURIST report] over the growing violence and rising death toll in Egypt stemming form ongoing protest throughout the country. On January 28, 2013 President Mohamed Morsi declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] in an attempt to quell growing unrest and violent political protests in several cities.

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