Muslims burn Christian shops in Egypt's south

CAIRO, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Muslim villagers in Egypt's south threw stones at a police station on Saturday where a Christian was being held on suspicion of assault, and they later burned and looted Christian-owned shops, witnesses said.

Police fired tear gas and pursued the villagers through the streets of Farshout in Qena province and arrested 30 Muslims after the violence, security sources said.

The Christian man was being held on suspicion of indecently assaulting a Muslim female. The villagers claim she was aged 12, while security sources put her age between 18 and 30.

While relations between Muslims and its Christian minority in Egypt are generally harmonious, disputes over land, religious buildings, inter-marriage and conversion sometimes lead to violence.

An Egyptian court last Sunday sentenced two Christian men to death for killing the Muslim husband of a female relative who converted to Islam against her family's wishes.

And in July police arrested 37 Muslims and Christians over the killing of a Muslim man and violence that followed. (Reporting by Mohamed Abdellah; Writing by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Jon Boyle)