Two get death sentence in Egypt sectarian killing

Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:22pm GMT
 

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced two Christian men to death on Sunday for killing the Muslim husband of a female relative who converted to Islam against the wishes of her family, court sources said.

The brother and uncle of Mariam Atef Khilla were convicted of breaking into her Cairo home in 2008 and opening fire on her and her family, killing her husband and hitting her in the hand. The couple's baby daughter was also wounded.

The sources said the death sentence would be sent for review to the state-appointed Grand Mufti, Egypt's highest authority on Islamic law.

Khilla converted to Islam three years earlier to marry her husband in defiance of her family, security sources said at the time.

Christians account for up to 10 percent of Egypt's population and relations with the Muslim majority are usually harmonious. However, disputes over land, religious buildings, inter-marriage and conversion sometimes lead to violence.

Egypt's most serious Christian-Muslim clashes in decades occurred in southern Egypt in 1999 when 20 Christians were killed, 22 people wounded and scores of shops destroyed.

<p>Violent protesters fight with riot police in the Mataria area of Cairo, November 23, 2008. Police in Mataria northeast of central Cairo intervened when large numbers of Muslims and Christians faced off over a building which the Christians want to convert into a church. An Egyptian court sentenced two Christian men to death on Sunday for killing the Muslim husband of a female relative who converted to Islam against the wishes of her family, court sources said. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih</p>
 
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