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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Egypt gives 15 people suspended jail sentences over church attack

A court also fined the owner of the building in which the church is located for not having a licence

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi speaks alongside Coptic Pope Tawadros II (left) during a Christmas Eve mass at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral in Cairo on January 6, 2018. Christians in Egypt have long complained of discrimination and have increasingly come under attack in recent years. Khaled Desouki / AFP
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi speaks alongside Coptic Pope Tawadros II (left) during a Christmas Eve mass at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral in Cairo on January 6, 2018. Christians in Egypt have long complained of discrimination and have increasingly come under attack in recent years. Khaled Desouki / AFP

An Egyptian court has given 15 people one-year suspended jail sentences over an attack on an unlicensed Coptic Church in a village south of Cairo.

The perpetrators were each fined 500 Egyptian pounds (Dh104) on charges of inciting sectarian strife, harming national unity and vandalising private property. They can appeal.

The Giza misdemeanour court also fined the owner of the building, a Christian man, 360,000 Egyptian pounds for turning his residency into a church without a licence.

Dozens of Muslims from the village of Kafr Al Waslin attacked the church after Friday prayers on December 22 last year, smashing windows and breaking everything inside.

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Read more:

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The Archdiocese of Atfih had applied to legalise the church, which housed worshippers for 15 years after a church building law was passed in 2016.

Christians in Egypt have long complained of discrimination and have increasingly come under attack in recent years.

Egyptian authorities are also battling a stubborn Islamist insurgency, mostly concentrated in the remote Sinai Peninsula, which has claimed several attacks on the country's large Christian minority.