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Egyptian Christians organise Iftar meals for Muslim neighbours

Coptic Christians have organised daily meals for their Muslim neighbours in Cairo. [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 June, 2017

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Coptic Christians have organised daily meals for their Muslim neighbours in Cairo during Ramadan, a show of communal solidarity in the wake of recent deadly attacks.

Egyptian Coptic Christians have organised daily meals for their Muslim neighbours in Cairo during Ramadan, a show of communal solidarity in the wake of recent deadly attacks against the beleaguered minority group.

Intercommunal meals are held every year in Egypt, but this year take on increased resonance after a spate of attacks targeting Christians have killed hundreds in an attempt to stoke sectarian tensions.

"They invited me and my kids, and I was surprised. They laid the table out on the street with no difference between sheikhs, Christians or Muslims – they pulled everyone to the table to break their fast," said Tarek Ali, a Muslim resident.

Dawoud Riyad, a middle-aged Christian man, set up the tables in a street near his Cairo home and has served up free home-cooked meals to hungry passersby at Iftar, the evening Ramadan meal.

"We all live in the same square, we're all brothers and friends, I've raised this man's son (alongside my own son) and he's Muslim," Riyad said, pointing to a neighbour.

Several Christian families in the area pitch in to provide food and drink in what he calls an effort to unite Egyptians during a holy time of the year.

Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 92 million people, but discrimination against them is entrenched in both state and society.

In April, twin bombings in the Nile Delta cities of Tanta and Alexandria killed 46 worshipers and injured more than 100 others as they celebrated Palm Sunday.

Last month, masked gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt on Friday morning, killing at least 28 and injuring 25, a local official said.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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