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Egypt's Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as "human shields"
Muslims turned up in droves for the Coptic Christmas mass Thursday night, offering their bodies, and lives, as “shields” to Egypt’s threatened Christian community
Yasmine El-Rashidi , Friday 7 Jan 2011
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Preacher Amr Khaled attending Christmas mass (photo: Nasser Nouri) Preacher Amr Khaled attending Christmas mass (photo: Nasser Nouri)
All as human Shields, Lets die together says a banner in front of a Zamalek Cairo church (photo: Sa All as human Shields, Lets die together says a banner in front of a Zamalek Cairo church (photo: Sa
Egyptian prominent writers visit Pope on Christmas day(photo: Abdel-Hamed Eid) Egyptian prominent writers visit Pope on Christmas day(photo: Abdel-Hamed Eid)
Solidarity in front of a Heliopolis Church.
Actress Youssra during Christmas mass in Abassyia(photo: Nasser Nouri) Actress Youssra during Christmas mass in Abassyia(photo: Nasser Nouri)
Ministers (photo: Nasser Nory) Ministers (photo: Nasser Nory)
Adel-Emam (photo: Nasser Nory) (photo: Nasser Nory)
Muslims greet Orthodox Christians leaving the church where Saturday's bomb blast took place in Alexa Muslims greet Copts leaving the church where Saturday's bomb blast took place in Alexandria, January 6, 2011, after the Coptic Christmas mass. (Photo: Reuters)
An Egyptian boy in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, during a candlelight vigil in mourning for t An Egyptian boy in Cairo, Jan. 7, during a candlelight vigil in mourning for the victims. (Photo: AP)

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside. (see photo gallery)

From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular Muslim televangelist and preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly Street. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

In the days following the brutal attack on Saints Church in Alexandria, which left 21 dead on New Year’ eve, solidarity between Muslims and Copts has seen an unprecedented peak. Millions of Egyptians changed their Facebook profile pictures to the image of a cross within a crescent – the symbol of an “Egypt for All”. Around the city, banners went up calling for unity, and depicting mosques and churches, crosses and crescents, together as one.

The attack has rocked a nation that is no stranger to acts of terror, against all of Muslims, Copts and Jews. In January of last year, on the eve of Coptic Christmas, a drive-by shooting in the southern town of Nag Hammadi killed eight Copts as they were leaving Church following mass. In 2004 and 2005, bombings in the Red Sea resorts of Taba and Sharm El-Sheikh claimed over 100 lives, and in the late 90’s, Islamic militants executed a series of bombings and massacres that left dozens dead. 

This attack though comes after a series of more recent incidents that have left Egyptians feeling left out in the cold by a government meant to protect them.

Last summer, 28-year-old businessman Khaled Said was beaten to death by police, also in Alexandria, causing a local and international uproar. Around his death, there have been numerous other reports of police brutality, random arrests and torture.

Last year was also witness to a ruthless parliamentary election process in which the government’s security apparatus and thugs seemed to spiral out of control. The result, aside from injuries and deaths, was a sweeping win by the ruling party thanks to its own carefully-orchestrated campaign that included vote-rigging, corruption and widespread violence. The opposition was essentially annihilated. And just days before the elections, Copts - who make up 10 percent of the population - were once again the subject of persecution, when a government moratorium on construction of a Christian community centre resulted in clashes between police and protestors. Two people were left dead and over 100 were detained, facing sentences of up to life in jail.

The economic woes of a country that favours the rich have only exacerbated the frustration of a population of 80 million whose majority struggle each day to survive. Accounts of thefts, drugs, and violence have surged in recent years, and the chorus of voices of discontent has continued to grow.

The terror attack that struck the country on New Year’s eve is in many ways a final straw – a breaking point, not just for the Coptic community, but for Muslims as well, who too feel marginalized, oppressed, and overlooked by a government that fails to address their needs. On this Coptic Christmas eve, the solidarity was not just one of religion, but of a desperate and collective plea for a better life and a government with accountability. 





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Sarah Kelley
06-11-2012 08:26pm
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Thank God
I so appreciate how the Muslims here desired to care for the Christians. I am a Christian who desires all to know Jesus as God's Son. I appreciate the humanity I see displayed here and have grown in my respect and appreciation for the people this represents.
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207



Bob Martin
03-11-2012 08:26pm
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This would go further if it was put out to more media.
This would be good news if heard by more Americans. We have trouble with "there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger. Your scholars have determined Muhammad was the last messenger according to what I have read on the subject. Surah 10:64 No change can there be in the words of Allah (and to further clarify). Surah 6:34 There is none that can alter the words of Allah 48:29 Muhammad is Allah's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another. Through them, Allah seeks to enrage the unbelievers. Those passages are in your book. My question to you is this: why would any Muslim that is following Islam, protect a Christian? Your book tells its followers unequivocally that is Allahs Law, what I have reminded you of. So on one side we have your God (supposedly the only God) wanting me dead and my God, wanting me to love you, he placed his son on the cross to die for all of our sins and only through him can you have everlasting li
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QueenDee
04-11-2012 10:55pm
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Reply
You're using the interpretation of some Fundamentalist Christians in the US. They also claim that Muslims should take Christian and Jews as enemies by not interpreting the passages in the quran or learning the context in which the verses were revealed. If you wish to know what the quran says, I suggest to go to a mosque near you or pick different copies of koran translation plus interpretation because the arabic text is not easy to translate.
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Chris
30-08-2012 03:19am
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Damn right.
This has to be the most awesome thing I heard today.
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205



james blackwell
28-08-2012 06:09pm
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Once again...
the muslim's of the world prove the entire western media b******t machine WRONG 3 love you! James ~ Bradford, England
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204



James Farrell
19-07-2012 12:54am
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New Egypt
Fantastic display
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203



sephy
12-04-2012 06:09pm
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wow
this is linked to from TVTropes crowning moment of heartwarming, and rightly so!
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202



neo
09-04-2011 03:32am
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human shields
I have linked to this story on my web site: http://theskepticarena.com/neo's%20favorites.aspx I think it is a disgrace that American media buried one of the greatest stories of all time.
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201



Alı
09-02-2011 01:13am
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Egypt's Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as "human shields"
Great
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200



George B.
07-02-2011 07:09am
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Egypt
Great and Wonderful things have come out of Egypt. This might be another time when they light the way for the rest of the world!
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199



bugwoman
03-02-2011 07:44pm
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news
We can haggle over any number of concerns with regard to the race or the religion of any people. What is amazing and laudable in this case is that a whole group of people calmly stepped over the gossamer dividing line of religion to show their total love and support for their countrymen.
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