The Qaed Ibrahim mosque, revered by Alexandrines as the embodiment of their Mediterranean city's cosmopolitan heritage, has become a battleground between the two visions fighting over the future of Egypt, literally.
When prominent ultraconservative cleric Sheik Ahmed el-Mahalawi denounced opponents of the Islamist-backed draft constitution as "followers of heretics" in a sermon, angry protests erupted, turning into clashes between sword-wielding supporters of the cleric and rock-throwing opponents, while police did nothing. The 87-year-old el-Mahalawi was trapped inside for over 12 hours during the battle, while protesters outside tried to free several of their comrades detained - and beaten, they say - in the mosque.
Afterward, powerful Islamist groups in Egypt's second largest city threatened to deploy their own armed militias in the streets to protect their symbols.
Source: New Zealand Herald. Read full article. (link)