Coptic march to commemorate Maspero victims attacked, 29 injured
Unknown assailants pelt marchers in Shubra district with stones and Molotov cocktails; some witnesses blame Salafists
Yasmine Fathi, Thursday 17 Nov 2011
Two days following the Maspero clashes Coptic protesters once again took to the street to protest the increasing discrimination they are facing in Egypt(Photo: Mai Shaheen)
A march to commemorate the 40-day anniversary of the Maspero clashes has been attacked.
It is still unclear who attacked the protesters, who were marching through the Shubra district of Cairo, with various reports saying it was thugs, Salafists or local residents.
The Ministry of Health has reported twenty nine injured protesters. MENA quoted a spokesman for the Ministry of Health as saying the injuries varied between bruises, minor cuts and fainting. Of the injured, 24 were released after receiving medical care.
Mina Sabet, a member of the Maspero Youth Union, told Ahram Online the assailants were holding a Saudi Arabian flag and calling for an Islamic state. Police tried to peacefully separate the two sides but resorted to tear gas when this failed.
Magda Naguib, who is standing for the Shubra single seat in upcoming parliamentary elections, was told that groups of Salafists had attacked the march.
The march had been organised by the Free Copts Movement and the Blood of Martyrs Movement.
The march, which began in Shubra Square and was on its way to Maspero for a prayer service, was attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails.
A fight ensued and gunshots were heard, but it is unclear who fired the shots. Several cars were also reportedly damaged during the fighting.
Security forces were unable to contain the violence and side roads were blocked by local residents to stop protesters from entering.
According to Father Filopater Gameel, a leader of the Maspero Youth Union, Copts had received permits from the authorities to hold the march. The union did not participate in the march but fully supported it, added Gameel.
The protesters were commemorating the deaths of Copts killed during last month’s Maspero clashes with the army that left at least 26 dead and more than 300 injured.
It is common in Egyptian culture to commemorate the 40th day after a death.
The Maspero Youth Union has cancelled a service to commemorate the Maspero martyrs on a Nile cruise boat today as a result of the violence in Shubra. The boat’s owner refused them permission to rent the boat due security concerns, stating it would be vulnerable when travelling beneath bridges.
Some protesters arrived at Maspero unaware of the violent events that had taken place and organisers urged them to go home.