Around two thousand people have protested in Upper Egypt against the alleged kidnapping and forced conversion to Christianity of a Muslim woman.
Protesters gathered in Al-Wasti in Beni Suef governorate on Tuesday to condemn what they claimed was the kidnapping last month of a 21-year-old woman by Christians. The woman was allegedly forced to marry a Coptic Christian man and sent to live in Turkey.
Security forces were deployed to protect the local church and police station.
The dispute began in February when members of the Salafist Nour Party and Al-Gamaa Al-Salafaya (the Salafist Group) gathered at Al-Wasti police station to protest the alleged kidnapping and forced conversion of the woman.
The woman’s relatives had reportedly found a number of Christian books in her personal library, which led them to suspect involvement by the church in her disappearance.
This is not the first protest against an alleged kidnapping and forced conversion in recent months. In February, clashes erupted in Komombo in Aswan, Upper Egypt after local Muslims accused Christians of kidnapping a middle-aged Muslim woman and forcing her to convert to Christianity.
In May 2011, clashes erupted in Cairo after a rumour spread among ultra-conservative Salafists that a Christian woman, who had allegedly converted to Islam, was being held hostage at a church in Imbaba.
The clashes left at least twelve dead and over 50 injured. Two churches were burnt down.
Al-Wasti is in Beni Suef governorate in Upper Egypt.