Police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Muslim protesters outside a church in southern Egypt Friday, January 18, the Associated Press reported. The demonstrators were demanding an investigation into allegations that a Christian man sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl. Residents in the province of Qena said four shops owned by Coptic Christians were torched overnight after villagers accused one of the store owners of molesting the young girl. Flare-ups of violence between Egypt’s Christians and Muslims have become more frequent in the past two years in the wake of the country’s uprising that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak but also weakened security across the nation. Egypt’s Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s 85 million people, fear that the power vacuum that has followed Mubarak’s overthrow is giving ultraconservatives and extremist Muslims a freer hand to attack churches and Coptic property.