Priest dies from stabbing on seaside promenade in Egypt

CAIRO (AP) — A knife-wielding man mortally wounded a Coptic priest in an attack at the popular seaside promenade in the northern city of Alexandria on Thursday evening, Egypt’s interior ministry said.

The ministry said the priest died while being treated for his wounds. It said the suspected attacker had been arrested.

The priest was identified by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria as Arsanious Wadid, 56. It said he had served at a local parish.

Sectarian violence is not uncommon in Egypt, where an Orthodox Christian minority, the Copts, is believed to be among the world’s oldest Christian communities.

Christians make up more than 10% of Egypt’s mostly Muslim population. Violence between communities occasionally erupts, mainly in rural communities in the south. Islamic extremists have also targeted Christians in the past.

Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyeb, who heads Egypt’s Al-Azhar — the highest institution of Sunni Islam in the Muslim world — condemned the attack, warning that such acts “might instigate religious wars.”

“The Grand Imam affirms that homicide is a major sin that arouses God’s wrath and is punishable in the afterlife,” read the statement posted on Al-Azhar’s Facebook page.

On Friday, the Coptic Church posted photos on social media showing dozens attending Wadid’s funeral at the Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. Priests stood around the open casket, a bible was placed on the slain priest’s chest and a cross around his neck.

In a statement, the Coptic Church mourned him as “a martyr” who was killed in a “treacherous” act.

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