We went back alone a few minutes later without the guides. After asking around, we found a local Coptic Christian resident named Osama.
He laughed when we told him that we had been advised to steer clear of the neighborhood. He introduced us to his Muslim neighbors and said that despite the religious divisions, he had never experienced any real sectarian tension before last week.
To prove it, he said he had been one of five Christian men who had spent several hours defending the church from angry thugs during Wednesday’s violence.
During the fight, they were joined by five Muslim men from the neighborhood. They had come to defend the church, and to risk their lives in the effort.