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Egypt rights council condemns violence against Christians

Egypt's state-run National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) [official website] on Monday publicly condemned recent violent attacks against the nation's Coptic Christians. Islamist extremists are believed to be behind attacks [CNN report] such as the burning of churches and property owned by Christians, along with the displacement of Christian citizens. Coptic Christians comprise roughly 10 percent of the country's 85 million people. These citizens have become a scapegoat for the ouster of Mohamed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], and recent attacks are widely seen as retaliation from Morsi supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The NCHR joins other human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], in the call [press release] for Egyptian authorities to take action in protecting religious institutions from further persecution. In addition to Monday's condemnation, the NCHR announced its plans to form a special committee that will write a comprehensive report about the attacks.

The threat to Christians came to a climax amid violent clashes [JURIST report] in the streets of Cairo, where police troops dispersed two protest encampments, leaving at least 275 killed and more than 2,000 injured [NPR report]. In subsequent days, the spread of violence claimed the lives of almost 1,000 people. The protests were predominantly attended by the Muslim Brotherhood. In July the Egyptian military deposed [JURIST report] Morsi, suspended the nation's constitution and installed an interim government. This marked the peak of conflict in the nation, which has faced unrest since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder]. Only one day after Morsi's ouster, Egyptian authorities shut down four Islamist-run television stations [JURIST report], causing concern among groups such as Amnesty International [advocacy website]. The Chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, Mansour, took the oath [JURIST report] to become the interim head of state on the same day that Morsi was deposed.

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