December 09 2004 at 02:32AM
Christians deplore 'forced' conversions
Roads leading to the cathedral, the seat of Pope Shenuda III, head of the Coptic Church, were sealed off, as the police tried to restore calm and restrain a protest over the disappearance of a priest's wife in the delta governorate of Beheira.
The protesters claimed 48-year-old public sector agricultural engineer Wafaa Constantine was abducted by her Muslim boss, Mohammed al-Margun, and forced to convert to Islam.
Nearly 400 Egyptian Christians demonstrated on Sunday at the cathedral and accused police of complicity.
The demonstrators, mostly young people, called on police to return
the woman to her husband and family and chanted slogans calling on President Hosni Mubarak to intervene.
"O Mubarak, the hearts of Copts are burning with
fire," they said. Father Philamon, the Orthodox
Coptic priest in Abul Matamir,
near the northern city of
The demonstrators said they would maintain a sit-in until "police return the wife of the priest". - Sapa-AFP