An argument between a Coptic wine merchant, Abdou Benyamin, and a Muslim customer, Youssef Hafez Mitwalli, in the village of Sila in Matai, Minya, Upper Egypt, last Tuesday escalated into a sectarian fight in which three Copts and one Muslim were injured. Benyamin had refused to sell Mitwalli wine saying he no longer traded in alcohol, but Mitwalli did not believe him and an argument ensued. The following day the Muslim villagers began throwing stones from their rooftops at the nearby Coptic homes; the Copts answered back likewise and the incident, which lasted for some two hours, turned bloody and the injured were moved to hospital. The nine-year-old child Kyrillos Gayed who was merely sitting outside the door of his home when the fighting erupted suffered severe haemorrhage in his ear and had to be moved to Matai public hospital in a critical condition.
The police detained three Copts and a Muslim. Copts in the normally calm village of Sila form some 40 per cent of the population and their homes occupy the central part of the village, with Muslim homes on the North and South.