Virgin Mary “sighting”
spurs riot
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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