Egyptian protesters -- some believed to be radical Islamists -- have surrounded the office of a newly appointed Coptic Christian governor Thursday in an attempt to force his resignation.
Protesters blocked off highways and railways leading to the province of Qena and chanted for the removal of Emad Mikhail, who was appointed by Egypt’s military rulers since President Hosni Mubarak left office.
Local media reported that radical Islamists were behind the demonstrations, sparking fears of sectarian tension. But witnesses said Coptic Christians and other Muslims were involved as well, Reuters reports.
Mikhail hasn’t arrived at the governor’s office yet since demonstrations began after the appointment. Protesters surrounded the office and vowed to prevent Mikhail from entering, refusing to negotiate with an envoy sent from Cairo to resolve the situation.
Mikhail previously worked in the government’s criminal investigations department, according to Reuters. While there, he reported to former interior minister Habib al-Adli, who is on trial for the security forces’ violent crackdown in the Mubarak uprising.
The government said it would allow the protests to continue, but would intervene if “acts of lawlessness” occurred.
Protesters in Qena are planning to hold a bigger rally on Friday to call for Mikhail’s ouster.