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Cairo: Thousands of Christians, Muslims clash

Thousands of Christians and Muslims clashed in Cairo, leaving one dead.

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Egyptian Coptic Christians demonstrate outside the state radio and television building in Cairo on March 8, 2011, to protest the burning of a church last week. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

One man died after thousands of Christians and Muslims clashed in Cairo on Tuesday after anger erupted over last week's burning of a church, AP reports.

Coptic Christians held protests in different areas of Cairo to demand better treatment and an end to what they perceive as discrimination in Egypt. About 2,000 protested on the eastern side of the city, cutting off a main road, and another 1,000 demonstrated in downtown Cairo, it states.

The violence occurred when Muslims wanted to pass through the road and confronted the Christians. Witnesses told the BBC both sides began throwing stones until the army intervened.

A hospital official said the clashes left one Coptic Christian man dead and about 100 wounded.

The clashes come a week after a Muslim mob burned a Christian church in a Cairo suburb. Egypt's military rulers have vowed to rebuild the church.

The religious tensions pose the biggest challenge yet to Egypt's interim military rulers, who took power after Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February.

"The Supreme Military Council ruling the country promised on Tuesday to rebuild the church and punish the attackers," states the Financial Times. "But Christians complain the military has been slow to move and reluctant to anger the Muslims of the village. Some have been alarmed by suggestions, attributed to a military commander, to rebuild the church outside the village."

Tensions have been growing in Egypt between its Coptic Christian minority and Muslim majority. On New Year's Day a suicide bombing outside a church in Alexandra killed 21 people.

Women protesters also faced troubles on Tuesday when an angry mob heckled and shoved them as they demonstrated in honor of International Women's Day. They were demanding an end to sexual harassment of women in Egypt. Men chased the women out of Tahrir Square in Cairo.

"They said that our role was to stay home and raise presidents, not to run for president," Farida Helmy, a 24-year old journalist, told AP.