Egypt Minister Hazem El-Beblawi Quits Over Coptic Rally

19:25 ~U 11.10.11

Egypt’s Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, who was appointed by the
ruling military council after popular protests earlier this year,
has resigned, officials and media say.

According to the BBC News, Beblawi, who was also deputy PM, quit over
the government’s handling of a Christian Coptic protest on Sunday,
they said.

It ended in clashes between the army and protesters in which 25 were
killed.The ruling military council has ordered a swift inquiry into
the violence.

“Despite the fact that there might not be direct responsibility on
the government’s part, responsibility lies, ultimately, with the
government,” state news agency Mena quoted Beblawi as saying.

“The current circumstances are very difficult and require a new and
different way of thinking and working,” he said.

His resignation came as members of the Coptic Christian community
began a three-day fast to mourn those killed.

The ruling military council, which was handed the power to govern by
President Hosni Mubarak before he was ousted in the popular revolt,
is in temporary charge of the country while elections are organised.

The Copts, who make up about 10% of Egypt’s 85 million population,
have a number of grievances against the interim administration.

They say the authorities have been slow to punish radical Islamists
who have attacked their churches.

Sunday’s protest was sparked by the burning down of a church in the
southern Aswan province last month.

About 2,000 people gathered in Cairo for an initially peaceful rally
to protest against its destruction. But fighting soon broke out,
involving protesters, residents and troops.

From: A. Papazian