Egypt: 12 Christians Get Life Sentences

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Egypt's State Security Court sentenced 12 Christians to life in prison Monday, while acquitting eight Muslims in the same case.

The Christians were found guilty of possessing illegal weapons, sowing public discord and the shooting death of two Muslims last April during a protest in Egypt's Minya province, about 135 miles south of Cairo.

The Muslims were charged with possession of illegal weapons and burning down Christian homes and businesses.

"The fact that the Muslims were acquitted means that the attorney general's investigation from the beginning was faulty and unfair because there was evidence to prove these men had burned Christian property," said human rights researcher Ishak Ibrahim, The Associated Press reported.

According to the report, a Muslim minibus driver, angered by a speed bump in front of a villa owned by a Christian, got into a fight with security guards.

The driver returned to his village and rounded up a mob to protest the beating he'd received from the security guards. The protesters demonstrated in front of an Islamist group's main office. Fearing more killing at the hands of the angry mob, the Christians fired from their rooftops, killing two protesters and wounding two others.

The convicted men have no recourse for appeal from the State Security Court, outside of the ruling military council, which they claim has done little to protect Christians from attacks by radical Islamists since the overthrow of the Mubarak government in January 2011.

In October 2011, Egyptian police and military killed 24 Coptic Christians and injured more than 300 protesting against the torching of a church in the village of Elmarinab in Edfu, Aswan, and an attack on a Coptic rally in Maspiro. These were just two of many incidents that have taken place since the Mubarak regime fell.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million people.

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