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Families of victims of Maspero clashes mourn at Coptic Hospital

After a night of violence between demonstrators, the army and security forces, families and friends of the dead come together at Cairo's Coptic Hospital to prepare for a funerary march to Abbasseya Cathedral

Sarah Raslan, Monday 10 Oct 2011
Maspiro
A woman grieves at a hospital morgue for protesters killed during clashes with Egyptian security forces in Cairo Egypt, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (Photo: AP)
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Central Security Forces and police filled the streets surrounding central Cairo's Coptic Hospital, adding to the already potent tension in the air. Inside the hospital, a woman sat on a window sill crying. The sun cast multi-coloured squares on her aged face through the hospital's stained glass window behind her. 

No one in the hospital lobby spoke, exchanging only worried and sad looks. Every once in a while a woman would break down crying. A few gunshots were heard from outside the hospital doors, prompting everyone to rush downstairs to the back of the hospital where the morgue and preparation rooms are located. 

 

Families of the dead from yesterday's clashes, between security forces and the army on one side and protesters on the other, sat by the morgue, shocked with grief at the loss of their loved ones. 

 

Amal Beshay said her 40-year-old brother, Ayman Saber Beshay, was run over and killed by an armoured military vehicle.

 

"His bones and skull were crushed and his brain spilled out on the ground because they ran him over," Beshay said.

 

Marchel Aryen sat in a corner looking at a photo of his 27-year-old cousin, Sobhy Gamal Nazim, who was killed. The young man said he does not see the clashes as Muslims against Christians, but rather as the army against Christians. 

 

"Why didn't the army go attack the Salafists when they protested and had a sit-in?" he said. "Justice can't be found in this country anymore." 

 

Aryen said the Coptic Hospital's morgue contains 18 corpses with over 50 in hospitals across Cairo, disputing Egyptian State TV's report of 25 dead. 

 

He also claimed that some bodies were dumped into the Nile.

 

The crowd watched with tears in their eyes as five more coffins containing martyrs arrived at the hospital to be prepared for burial and an elderly woman fainted when the coffin containing her son was brought to the hospital. 

 

Outside the hospital's side walls, a demonstration approximately 1,000-strong emerged. Demonstrators raised the cross and yelled chants against the army and words of encouragement to their fellow Christians. 

 

"Raise your hand up high, you're a Copt," they chanted. 

 

Sunday's Maspero clashes came after a march of around 10,000, which began in Cairo's Shubra district, was attacked by stone throwers and threatened by gunshots fired in the air as they attempted to cross the Shubra Tunnel. After a 15-minute stone throwing battle ended, the protesters continued forward with their march and were once again attacked, but this time by the military police. Clashes erupted between both sides leaving many dead and almost 200 injured. 

 

Funeral services, which were scheduled for 2pm today, were postponed for an hour due to confusion regarding burial permits and whether or not autopsies would be performed on the bodies. 

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