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Egyptian court sentences 16 over Church raid - sources

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court on Wednesday gave 15 people one-year suspended jail sentences over a December attack on an unlicensed Coptic Church in a village south of Cairo, judicial sources said.

The perpetrators were each fined 500 Egyptian pounds ($28) on charges of inciting sectarian strife, harming national unity and vandalising private property. They can appeal.

The Giza misdemeanour court also fined the owner of the building, a Christian man, 360,000 Egyptian pounds ($20,500) for turning his residency into a church without a licence.

Dozens of Muslims from the village of Kafr al-Waslin attacked the church after Friday prayers on Dec. 22, smashing windows and breaking everything inside.

The Archdiocese of Atfih had applied to legalize the church, which housed worshippers for 15 years after a church building law was passed in 2016.

Christians in Egypt have long complained of discrimination in the majority-Muslim country and have increasingly come under attack in recent years.

Egyptian authorities are also battling a stubborn Islamist insurgency, mostly concentrated in the remote Sinai Peninsula, which has claimed several attacks on Egypt's large Christian minority.

(Reporting by Haitham Ahmed; Writing by Arwa Gaballa; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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