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Copts protest sectarian violence

Sectarian violence in Imbaba yesterday sparks a new round of protests in downtown Cairo by Copts who say they are both fearful and angry

Ekram Ibrahim , Sunday 8 May 2011
Copt protest in Tahrir Square
Photo: Ekram Ibrahim, Copt protest in Tahrir Square
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In response to massive sectarian violence at Imbaba, Giza, Copts are out protesting in huge numbers and will start an open sit-in before the State TV building in Maspero until their demands are met.

“We won’t leave Maspero until either we are shot or the army arrests those responsible for sectarian violence,” Saeed Fayez, an activist and legal advisor to Maspero Copts Youth Union, told Ahram Online.

The protesters' main demand is the punishment on whoever took part in the bombing of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve, the burning of a church in Soul Village, and the burning of two churches in Imbaba last night.

As protesters approached Maspero, army forces tried to stop them with taser sticks. One protester was injured and the armed forces stopped suppressing the protesters in a couple of minutes. After Copts managed to restart their protest, a group of residents from the area started attacking them to disperse the protest. Within moments things had calmed down again. To avoid more violence, protesters created checkpoints in Maspero.

Copts at Maspero were chanting against Field Marshal Tantawi, head of Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. “We want Marshal Tantawi to step down!” they chanted.

Many protesters believe that the military is responsible for the violent sectarian attacks, as they have not arrested those responsible for the burning of a church in Soul after Mubarak stepped down. “If justice had taken place earlier, Salafis wouldn’t have done that yesterday,” Nabil Gobraial, a rights lawyer, told Ahram Online, referring to clashes last night in Imbaba that left hundreds injured and at least 10 dead.

Eyewitnesses in Imbaba yesterday allege that the army remained inert as Salafis burned two churches, burned Copts’ houses, and attacked Copts in the district. “The police and the army were there and stayed watching the scene,” Fayez told Ahram Online.

“Here are the Copts, where are the Salafis?” chanted the protesters. Protesters are not protesting against Muslims, but Salafis, they say. “The Salafis are acting like a group of thugs who are holding a weapon in one hand and the Quran in the other,” Mina Hanna, one of the protesters, told Ahram Online.

Some protesters think that Saudi Arabia is supporting the Salafis in Egypt. “We were never like this, all this is planned by the Saudis,” Ashraf Tarek, one of the protesters, told Ahram Online.

Meanwhile, Salafis released an official statement today denying taking part in any of the sectarian violence yesterday in Imbaba. "We as the Salafis are againist any blood shedding and the media is responsible for portraying us another way," according to the statement released by the Salafis.

The statement also called on the Egyptian army to take control of all weapons found on citizens and to search mosques, churches and affiliated organisations for weapons.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters started a protest near to the US embassy asking for American interference to end sectarian violence in Egypt. They then marched to the High Court, downtown, and continued protesting for around two hours from 2pm. Many protesters were holding wooden crosses and chanting with anger.

The sectarian violence shaking Egypt has left many Copts afraid and angry at the same time. “I don’t understand what is going on. I came here to ask the army to protect us,” one of the protesters told Ahram Online.

“They don’t want us in the country anymore. So where do we go? I am terrified for my wife and children,” one of the protesters said.

In connection to the Imbaba violence, Salafists claimed that a woman who converted to Islam was being detained in one of the churches that were attacked and burnt.

 

 

 

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Abe
09-05-2011 12:21pm
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Take it from a Copt!!!
After great jubilation, following the January revolution, I read the news online with deep sadness... Muslims killing and burning Coptic Churches, Copts avenging by killing Muslims and both sides have gone insane. What's happening is not an interference by outsiders, but simply one side is taking it too far with their beliefs. The other side is reacting too strongly out of fear. The only way to get out of this situation is by the heads of both religions to get together and start an education program. They will have to tell them, that what they are doing is costing them dearly and bringing the country down in the process. The authority needs to apply the law very firmly and punishment should be taken very seriously to whoever oversteps the line.
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markjuliansmith
09-05-2011 03:13am
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Stop Otherphobia
Please Explain? Nazi Kristallnacht does not equal to: Muslim: At least 12 people were killed and 232 others were wounded in sectarian clashes outside a Cairo church. Muslim: Iraqi officials describe al-Batawi as the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the "mastermind, direct supervisor and planner" of the October 2010 siege at Our Lady of Salvation Church that left more than 70 people dead and 75 more wounded. This insane dualism of the religious and the secular where we look for excuses for one and condemn other at every turn has to end. To regard what is happening in Cairo and Iraq as anything other than representing Mohammed’s Quran text as the Nazi Actions represented Hitler’s Mein Kampf enables this terror to continue. Who is to protect Other from Otherphobia? Religions? What about bigotry against Other? Stop Otherphobia. Change the Text or Change Nothing.
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Coral
08-05-2011 07:59pm
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Sectarian Violence
What happen yesterday is so unbelievable after 25 January I have a solution the army goes in gets as many of the trouble makers as they can put them out in the desert to live in tents with only the bare essentials to survive for six months and the only thing they have to do all day is break rocks instead of throwing them maybe then they will realise what a great country they are living in - I started my married life here nearly 30 years ago love everything about Egypt please don't play into the hands of the people who are trying to destroy the Revolution.
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James
08-05-2011 07:49pm
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Religious liberty for all
This persecution of Copts must stop. I am so glad that Ahram can report on stories like these. This newspaper is doing a great service for your nation. There must be religious liberty for Copts in Egypt.
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