Monday, June 18,2007 08:44

After three people were killed in anti-Christian demonstrations in Alexandria, the influential Muslim Brotherhood is seeking a mediating role in efforts to ease tension between the majority Muslim and Coptic Christian communities, pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reports. The local leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Abdel Fattah, has held a meeting at the St. Girgis (Saint George) church, at the centre of a row over an allegedly anti Islamic theatre performance, to discuss ways of resolving the conflict.

The Muslim Brotherhood is seeking to organise a forum in the church between the religious leader Mufti Mohammed Tantawi, and the Copt patriarch Shenouda III, the paper reports.

Egyptian police have confirmed the detention orders for 108 protestors after violence erupted last Friday in front of the Coptic church in Alexandria. Four people - two protestors and two policemen- were killed, and scores injured in the violence, police officials said.

The violence followed intermittent protests over a stage play considered offensive to Muslims and performed two years earlier at the St Girgis church, one of seven that came under attack.

The performance passed unnoticed, but someone recorded the play on video, and DVDs of it have been distributed, fuelling anger in the Muslim community.

Some commentators have suggested that the violence has been stirred up deliberately ahead of November"s elections with the intention of damaging the campaign of a Coptic Christian candidate running on the ticket of president Hosni Mubarak"s National Democratic Party (NDP).

Coptic Christians are thought to make up ten percent of Egypt"s 72 million population, though the government puts that figure at six per cent.