ASSIUT, Egypt — It was nighttime and 10,000 Islamists were marching down the most heavily Christian street in this ancient Egyptian city, chanting "Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians." A half-dozen kids were spray-painting "Boycott the Christians" on walls, supervised by an adult.
While Islamists are on the defensive in Cairo following the military coup that ousted President Mohammed Morsi, in Assiut and elsewhere in Egypt's deep south they are waging a stepped-up hate campaign, claiming the country's Christian minority somehow engineered Morsi's downfall.
"Tawadros is a dog," says a spray-painted insult, referring to Pope Tawadros II, patriarch of the Copts, as Egypt's Christians are called. Christian homes, stores and places of worship have been marked with large painted crosses.
The hostility led a coalition of 16 Egyptian rights groups to warn on Wednesday of a wave of violence to come, and to demand that the post-coup authorities protect the Christians who are 10 percent of the population, and suffer chronic discrimination.
(Hat tip to Adam Simpson)