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Protest against persecution of Copts in Egypt attacked with bloody force
Peaceful march turns into full-blown attack on protesters by security forces and plain-clothed assailants, leaving 36 dead and scores injured in deadliest day since revolution
Yasmine Fathi, Lina El-Wardani, Mostafa Ali, Nada El-Kouny , Sunday 9 Oct 2011
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Coptic Protest
Galaa Street, Downtown Cairo, 9 September, 2011 (Photo: Nada El-Kouny)

A peaceful march by Copts today against religious persecution gave way to a night of violence after the protesters were attacked. 

The march of around 10,000, which began in Shubra, turned violent when protesters were attacked by stone throwing mobs from on top of the surrounding walls while they were trying to cross the Shubra tunnel. A 15-minute battle ensued as the Coptic protesters fought back and hurled stones at their assailants.

Gun shots were fired in the sky, leaving terrified demonstrators wondering aloud if they were going to be shot.

During the attack panic ensued as women protesters were told to stand under the bridge for safety as Coptic youth tried to contain the march. After the battle stopped the march, once again regained its peaceful nature and continued towards Maspero.

On their way to Maspero they stopped in the neighboring Galaa Street and were attacked once again. Random gun fire was aimed at the crowd from a speeding car.

The march continued once again to Maspero, where the protesters came under brutal and persistent attack.

An Ahram Online correspondent at Maspero reports seeing glass being thrown down at protesters from inside the State Broadcasting building, while armoured personnel carriers were driven by the army through the crowds, hitting and running over protesters. Eyewitness accounts posted on Twitter detail people being shot by the armed forces and attacked by plain-clothed thugs, with fire consuming vehicles by the Nile.

Ambulances ferried tens of injured protesters away from the scene.

Later in the evening, Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, posted on Twitter that he saw 17 bodies in the morgue at the Coptic Hospital.

So far confirmed as being among those killed are Mina Daniel, an activist and blogger; Wael Yunna, a journalist for Coptic TV; and Michael Mosaad, an activist and member of the Maspero Youth Coalition.

The protest was organised by the Maspero Youth Union, a group of young Coptic activists, to protest against the recent violations against Copts. The protesters chanted: "Raise your head high you are a Copt,” and “No to burning of churches.” Chants were also directed against the army, such as “The people demand the removal of the Field Marshal [Tantawi],” and “Tantawi, where is your army, our homes and churches are being attacked.”

Many of the protesters held huge crosses, one of which was dressed in army garb with a banner stuck on it saying “We thought the army will unite us, but they divided us.”

The latest attack suffered by Egypt's Christians on their freedom to worship occured late last month in the village of Merinab, in Aswan, where Muslim villagers attempted to block renovations underway at a Christian church. They claimed that the building was a "guesthouse" that cannot be turned into a church.

Among the demands called for by the demonstrators was that Aswan governor, Mustafa El-Sayed, resign after he attempted to justify the attack on the Merinab church. The increasing attacks against Copts in recent months and the lack of protection afforded them by the army have been cited as evidence of latent persecution against Egypt's Christians.

The interim government's stalling added to the anger of demonstrators, who demanded to know why Essam Sharaf's Cabinet has refused, or failed, to introduce an anti-discrimination law promised last May. The draft for a unified building code for Muslims and Christians has also not been ratified.

“You can call it whatever you like, anti-discrimination law, an anti-racism law,” fumed lawyer Nabil Ghabriel. “But the point it we want equality in this country.”

Another protester from Shubra, Lotfy Mikhael, insisted that the situation has continued to deteriorate since the revolution began.

“I feel that this is a cross Egypt’s Christians have to bear and we will never feel equal in this country,” Mikhael said. “All we want is to be treated the same as Muslims.”

The protest was mostly peaceful for the first hour, with protesters at one point creating a human cross in the middle of the Shubra Road. However, as the march approached the Shubra tunnel, several protesters burned a picture of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi amid whistles and cheers. The situation quickly turned violent as they came under attack from a hail of stones from assailants standing over them.

“The army is treating us the way Mubarak treated protesters during the revolution,” protester Mary Nour told Ahram Online after the stone throwing ended. “But we will never give up.”

Later in the night, the army used tear gas to disperse the remaining protesters at Maspero, with more rocks thrown down from the 6 October Bridge by police and armed forces. Security forces chased any protesters who had congregated on the bridge away from Maspero with tear gas cannisters hailing down throughout. Our correspondent reports seeing one protester shot in the shoulder with live round casings litter the ground.

Local residents in the Bulaq district of Cairo took part in the attack on the protest, brandishing weapons and throwing rocks at demonstrators, whom they accused of being "troublemakers."

According to one of our correspondents on the scene, "It looks like the Bulaq 'thugs' are taking charge now, the security forces have let them."

Immediately after filing over the phone, the same correspondent was set upon by an angry mob, accusing him of being a spy.



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14



shary
13-10-2011 12:46pm
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Killing army soldiers
You are demonizing the army and police and you claiming that the police threw rocks from the bridge. You ignore how three army soldiers were killed by the Copt thugs. One jumpedon an open flat military stood up on the top of the vehicle threw it on the head of the soldier killing him instantaneously then he jumped inside to beat him up to realize he is dead. One soldier ran out of his burning vehicle the Copt thugs chased him with about ten Copts they beat him up and then one with a knife stabbed him and killed him. A
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13



khaled Y. el SHAARANY
12-10-2011 11:43pm
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Sunday massacre
This honest AHRAM report is published in its English digital only! Very smart regime.
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12



Hannibal
11-10-2011 03:05pm
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Kafa Ijram
Kafa kafa Kafa This is the consequence of juridical and political discrimination against non muslim sunni.There is a regime of apartheid in Egypt against christians copt and muslim shia and this need to be abolished.Punctum Finalum
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11



Paul
11-10-2011 09:32am
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Arabic Translation of this article
Why is the Arabic tranlatin of this article is not honest and full of lies: See the lies of Al-ahram newspaper, this is the Arabic version of al-ahram of today: http://www.ahram.org.eg/Al-Ahram-Files/News/106071.aspx
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10



Lutfi Jamaldeen
11-10-2011 05:44am
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True Muslims must protect the Copts
As Muslims we are told to uphold injustice and to be fair to all. I appeal to the Grand Mufti and all other Muslims beware you will be questioned on Resurrection Day for your injustices.
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9



Copts are the problem
11-10-2011 02:03am
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Copts are the problem
STOP THE LIE You can see the video in youtube and read news before. The Christian attacked the Egyptian Military Supreme Council where they were protecting some institution and christian halogens stated it. Also high priest acknowledge that but he say some group not part of them caused it.
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8



Egyptian
11-10-2011 01:52am
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Copts in Egypt
Copts were used to be treated all above fellow muslim egyptians as they were protected by the late dictator to gain support from the west. He never jailed , nor tortured, nor even criminally prosecuted any one of them. At a time, he even let go a priest who was criminally charged. What they are trying to do lately to show themselves as victims, oppressed are bare from reality. From my opinion, they are using all this senarios to show themselves as victims, will not let them gain anything to the contrary they will loose all credibilty and sympathy from the ordinary fellow moslems. We were always one family and never thought of them to be foreigner. But now everbody is questionning himself how we should react in the near future.
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7



Evelyn Nicholson
10-10-2011 09:26pm
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Persecution
God Bless and keep the Holy Saints in Egypt in his precious hands. May He change the hearts of the Muslim majority to treat all people as equal.
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6



maria booker
10-10-2011 08:42pm
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copts in cairo
Praying for fellow christians struggling for personal and civil rights in egypt.
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5



jack
10-10-2011 05:55pm
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the great "satan"
can you see the devil smile, more of a smirk really
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