|Virgin Mary “sighting”
|Angry Muslims attack Christian homes, shops|
SHENTENA EL-HAGAR, Egypt -- First came flashes of red light around the steeple of the Virgin Mary Church. Then silver- white doves flew overhead. And finally, residents of this small village said, the virgin Mary herself alighted atop the steeple, a vision to the faithful. But what should have been a holy encounter soon turned into a religious riot when Muslims, angered by tens of thousands of pilgrims packing the village, attacked Christian homes and shops. For three nights last week, hundreds of Islamic militants from Shentena el-Hagar and nearby villages smashed windows and chanted slogans praising Islam and cursing Christianity. No one was hurt, but the broken windows and smashed shutters are testament to the centuries of tense relations between Egypt’s majority Muslims and minority Coptic Christians, who number 6 million in a nation of 60 million. Although Muslims revere the Virgin Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ--considered a prophet in the Islamic faith--their religion prohibits them from worshipping images. Twice before--in 1968 and 1986--there have been reported sightings of the Virgin Mary in Egypt, both in the capital, Cairo.
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