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Silent vigil fills Cairo cathedral as Egyptian officials try to blame massacre on the victims

At the Cairo vigil (Photo by Omar Robert Hamilton)

Young Coptic Christians stood in silent tribute Sunday night at Cairo’s Abbasseya Cathedral, mourning the violent deaths of 27 and wounding of hundreds in what is increasingly being referred to as the Maspero Massacre — as Egyptian army units opened fire on a peaceful protest march last week.

Meanwhile, the official line is emerging that the victims themselves — not the nation’s military rulers — are to blame for troops driving armored vehicles at high speed into crowds and shooting marchers. China took the same tactic after the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 when soldiers killed hundreds of college students demanding democracy.


Egypt’s state-run paper al-Ahram criticized “some Coptic intellectuals and public figures” for “launching a campaign accusing military rulers of committing genocide against Copts.” Editorial writer Makram Mohamed Ahmed did not address the many videotapes of the attacks on the protesters, but instead claimed blaming the army “will harm the Egyptian state.”

Ahmed writes that “the whole incident is merely a mismanagement of a crisis that paved the way for infiltrators to dominate the scene and push for escalation” — in other words, the military mismanaged the situation by killing people, but the unarmed Copts started it.

“In adopting the state narrative of blaming protesters,” observes reporter Ahmed Zaki Osman in the privately owned al-Masry al-Youm newspaper, “and absolving the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” the state-owned newspaper al-Ahram “argues that the solution for sectarian strife is easy: enable Copts to build their own churches without administrative restrictions.”


Actually, that is exactly what the Copts have been asking. Currently, they must obtain a presidential edict before they can even repair existing churches — much less build new ones or any facility for church activities. The Army has vigilantly enforced such regulations — even sending armed troops to bulldoze a wall that Coptic monks put up to keep vandals out of their garden.

The official line of blaming  the victims was echoed by al-Shorouk newspaper columnist Emad Hussein. He “directs his anger toward two Coptic priests,” notes Osman, “accusing them of threatening the unity of the country. But he doesn’t stop there, Hussein accuses the head of the Coptic Church, Pope Shenouda III, of devising a complicated strategy in which Coptic leaders play various roles.”


In the leftist party paper al-Wafd, Mostafa Abdel Razek blamed the victims.

“In an article written as a message to Pope Shenouda III,” observes Osman, “Abdel Razek alleges that one priest was threatening national unity.” The leftist columnist quotes the two unnamed priests “as calling for the killing of Aswan’s governor, who some accuse of igniting the violence by seemingly defending an Upper Egypt church attack when he said it was constructed illegally.”

In other words, the leftist columnist was focusing on claims that the church didn’t have proper permits — which are not required to build or repair mosques — and ignoring violence and loss of life at the church’s destruction and the resulting protest march. The columnist went on to allege that the same unnamed priest was speaking “in an inappropriate way about Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt’s ruling military council, whom we should respect.”


There is apparently no proof that such a priest made any such statements — no video of such a priest exhorting the crowd, no reports from the day of the event of such rabble-rousing.

In fact, notes Osman, “Salama Ahmed Salama, editor-in-chief of the privately owned al-Shorouk, gives a different account.” He blamed Muslim “imams of inciting violence with their discriminatory and sectarian tones.”

As the government went into defensive mode, hundreds of activists and young Copts organized a silent vigil on Sunday in Cairo, mourning the 27 who died. On the street, Egypt’s armed forces are facing harsh criticism for their use of force, reported Emad Khalil in al-Masry al-Youm:


A number of people injured and families of those killed in the violence attended the vigil, which started at 6:30 pm.

Several activist groups also attended, including the Maspero Youth Union, the Coptic Union and Free Copts, Copts Without Restrictions, and Youth for Freedom and Justice, whose member, Mina Daniel, was killed at the protest. Coptic clerics were absent from the event.

Participants, who held candles and dressed in black, demanded retribution for the deaths and the release of people arrested in the clashes.

They also criticized military violence and called for a unified law for the construction of places of worship.

Magdy Saber, a media representative for the Maspero Youth Union, said the vigil was meant to commemorate the deaths and to demand an urgent investigation of the incident.

Saber backed participants’ demands to remove Information Minister Osama Heikal, who they accuse of directing biased state TV coverage of the clashes and inciting sectarianism.

Participants also called for the resignation of Aswan Governor Mostafa al-Sayyed, following the attack on an Upper Egypt church on 30 September.

  • http://Muslimcontrolpress usworker

    and their ‘faith’ DEMANDS that you either CONVERT or DIE … so there is NO way that they will even begin to look at the real blame and in fact they will deflect the blame – same principle the communist used in viet nam – or russia – or even CHINA today … So we either accept it ..or.. have the Christians move (give up the Holy Land – ie Middle Ages) or go into a HOLY WAR -) – Maybe this is what God predicted as Armagedon?? the ultimate battle – if the west doesn’t capitulate – will have to be faught.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment tookie

    As an American living in Egypt, I can say some protester (not known whether Muslim or Coptic as both groups participated in the protest) fatally shot a soldier when they arrived to break up the crowd. This awful act led to the ensuing chaos when the military responded as they are trained to do.
    The entire downtown Cairo area was shut down around 9pm as a result of these issues taking place down on the Nile at the t.v. building (I was downtown and witnessed this). This was the effort of the military to keep problems from spreading and protect people. Businesses were shuttered very suddenly and entrance to the main downtown streets was blocked.
    As a Christian, I sadly watched the loss of human life unfold on local t.v. and mourned this on behalf of both my Muslim and Coptic Christian friends. I have witnessed for the past six years both religious groups living side by side in a friendly way, celebrating all religious holidays with respect and being friends. There is only a small group of people who feel persecuted by others but this is the norm everywhere. It is the sect of Muslims who are on the extreme end of belief who are intolerant of any other religion, but these are a minority in Egypt. These extremists interpret Islam in an improper way by their beliefs and actions, as Islam says believers must be respectful of Christians.
    I can say an American friend had a 4 star military General escort her down a downtown street himself when she felt unsafe one day, and that spoke volumes. He didn’t leave it to anyone else. The military is focused on keeping people safe, regardless of who they are. They have undertaken a monumental task that requires patience from the people of Egypt.
    Everyone has a right to air their concerns, but the constant protesting all over the country is contributing to a loss of services, environment of negativity, and sadly safety concerns. The military stated well over 2 months ago that protesters must be responsible for their own safety as they will not provide men to guard the areas where protesting goes on. Therefore, they weren’t standing around guarding anyone and then suddenly began shooting. They were called when things began burning (like cars outside the tv building) and the safety of the surrounding areas of downtown Cairo were at risk.
    If you saw a soldier get shot next to you during a protest, as a soldier it is your job to respond. That is what this whole thing boils down to. People need respect for the military and respect for themselves, so that actions like this won’t happen ever again.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment GaudioLugens

    Where are all those American liberals who were cheering the Egyptian social revolution undertaken for the making of a better Egypt? Not a peep from any of them. I suppose that they’re actually quite satisfied that the jihadic mindset has found another avenue of freedom to express itself more freely. Freedom after all was the goal, was it not?

  • http://dhimmi bruces

    The Moslem anti-Christian violence occurring in Egypt is repeated in Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Gaza. It is part of an institutionalized intolerance at the core of Islam. Take a look at for additional information about how Islam views any non-Moslems.

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