September 12, 2012 / 6:45 PM / 5 years ago

New York police add security in wake of Libya protests

NEW YORK, Sept 12 (Reuters) - New York City police have added security at Coptic Christian churches around the city, protecting against any spread of the Egyptian and Libyan demonstrations over a film produced in the United States denouncing Islam.

The police department said it has “no evidence of any attacks planned against targets in the city” but has taken the extra precautions based on “reports that Coptic Christians were linked in some fashion to the video.”

The video, called “Innocence of Muslims,” portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser, angering many Muslims and provoking a deadly attack on a U.S. mission in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three embassy staff.

There remain questions around precisely who made the film, although one of its major promoters is an Egyptian Christian living in the United States, Morris Sadek. He said on Wednesday he did not consider the video offensive to Islam.

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, however, condemned some Copts living abroad who it said financed “the production of a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad,” an Egyptian state website said.

Coptic Christians, who form Egypt’s biggest minority group and constitute most of Egypt’s 10 percent Christian population in a country of 83 million people, have long had a difficult relationship with the country’s overwhelmingly Muslim majority.

Conflicts over conversions, cross-faith romances and church-building have long flared in Egyptian towns where turf wars or family rivalries often loom as large as sectarian loyalties.

Since former President Hosni Mubarak’s removal, Christians have become increasingly worried after an upsurge in attacks on churches, which they blame on hardline Islamists, though experts say local disputes are often also behind them.

New York City has five Coptic Orthodox churches, with two on Staten Island and one each in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, according to the website of the Coptic Orthodox Church Network.

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