National unity march in Imbaba

Monday 9 May 2011

Attempts to sideline Egypt's revolution by inciting sectarian tension bring hundreds out to march in proclamation of Egyptian unity

Hundreds of Egyptians marched through Imbaba today for national unity in the wake of sectarian attacks on Saturday against two churches and Coptic property.

The march started at 5pm in the Imbaba neighbourhood and grew in numbers as it progessed with residents joining or adding their voice of support from their balconies. Several prominent Egyptians took part such as the writer Hamdy Qandil, Wael Ghoneim, Ahdaf Soueif and Abdel Galil Mutafa, head of of the National Association for Change.

The absurdity of the flimsy provocation for the violence in which 12 people died was summed up by one banner which read: "It is unreasonable a rumour could kill 12 people."

Protester ambassador  Azmy Khalil  told Ahram Online  that "the most dangerous thing that's threatening Egypt now is sectarian tension. Always times of change are the most vulnerable to attack and Egypt is at its most vulnerable, except for its people and youth. This is our chance to establish a just civil state where all citizens enjoy equal rights without discrimination based on religion or ethnicity. This is sedition, the state is at stake."

Shaimaa Shaalan, producer and protester agrees with Khalil that Egypt is in danger and the revolution is being attacked. "Every couple of weeks something like this explodes, to make us divert from achieving the revolution's demands. Instead of focusing on the trials of Mubarak and the NDP criminals we are stuck in a sectarian strife," added angry Shaalan. Her voice was echoed by many angry protesters.

While the main slogan of the protest was "Muslim and copt, one hand," an angry and elderly Christian woman walked passed the protest shouting "We are not one hand, and God saves us from this humilation," she shouted at no one in particular.

The march was meant to proceed up to the doors of The Saint Mina Church which was attacked and set ablaze during Saturday's violence. The appraoch to it, however, was blocked by the army who formed a cordon. Some protesters dispersed, taking the smaller streets in the hope of reaching it.

The protest was organised by The Egyptian National Association for Change, the Popular Campaign for Supporting El-Baradei ‎and the April 6 Youth Movement as well as activists from Imbaba.

At the end of the march, people chanted the national anthem in a very moving scene, and before dispersing, they promised to organise a joint funeral for the victims of violence in Imbaba and other activities to prove unity.

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