Egypt’s finance minister resigned Tuesday to protest the government’s handling of protests that left 26 dead, most of them Coptic Christian demonstrators, an aide to the minister said.

Overnight, some 20,000 mourners chanted slogans denouncing the ruling military during a funeral procession overnight for 17 Christians killed in the protest on Sunday night in Cairo. They accused the army of bearing primary responsibility.

At times, the prayers were interrupted by chants of “Down with military rule” and “The people want to topple the Marshal,” — a reference to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi who heads the ruling military council that took power after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February. No state official or military official were present at the funeral.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who represent about 10 percent of the 85 million people in this Muslim-majority nation, have long complained that they are second-class citizens in their own country. However violence against them in the eight months since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak has reached the highest level in decades.

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