Campaign launched to support activists detained since church bombing protest

Ahram Online, Wednesday 9 May 2012

Coalition of political forces to hold press conference Wednesday in solidarity with eight youth activists still facing charges since pre-uprising sit-in against new Year's church bombings

Two saints demos
Egyptian Muslims and Christians raise a copy of the Quran and the Bible in Shubra district of Cairo, late Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 to protest against the terrorist attack on a church of Alexandria. The raised t-shirt says "no, no to terrorism". (Photo: AP/Ahmed Ali)

Several political movements and figures are to hold a press conference 6pm Wednesday, as part of a campaign launched in solidarity with eight activists facing charges after demonstrating against the New Year's Eve Two Saints Church bombings in January 2011.

The activists currently accused are Mohamed Nagy and Mustafa Shawky of the Justice and Freedom Youth Movement, Mohamed Atef and Mustafa Mohi of the Socialist Renewal Current, Tamer El-Saady of the April 6 Youth Movement as well as Ahmed Refaat Diaaeddin Rabie and Amr Ahmed.  

The eight are charged with assaulting 15 state security soldiers and four police officers as well as destroying two armoured vehicles and 11 trucks. They were sentenced on 29 March 2012 to two years in prison as well as being given a LE200 fine. They are expected to appeal on 13 May, 2012.

The Two Saints Church in Egypt's coastal city of Alexandria was bombed on 31 December 2011 leaving 21 dead and over 70 injured. No one has been held accountable for the attacks and investigations are ongoing.

State security arrested dozens of protesters -- including the eight currently accused -- while dispersing the 3 January 2011 solidarity sit-in in front of the Church of the Virgin (Al-Adra) in the El-Masarra neighbourhood in Cairo's Shubra district.

According to the activists' testimonies, protesters were demanding the resignation of the then interior minister Habib El-Adly for his inability to protect Egypt's churches, when the security forces attacked.

The Maspero Youth Coalition, a group defending Coptic rights that was formed after the January 25 Revolution, recently condemned the state's accusations against the eight activists, all of whom are Muslims.

The Christian youth group recalled slain leftist Coptic icon Mina Daniel's stand at the time of their arrest, when he held a banner reading: "if standing in solidarity with the Copts is a crime then we are all criminals."

Daniel, who was also a member of the Justice and Freedom Youth Movement, was shot dead during a 9 October 2011 military attack on a largely Coptic march to the Maspero state television headquarters.

The Wednesday press conference is expected to be attended by George Isaac the former founding member of the Kefaya movement, Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party MP Mohamed El-Beltagy and Sheikh Mazhar Shahin of the Tahrir-based Omar Makram mosque. Joseph Malak, the church's lawyer in the Two Saints bombings case and members of the Revolution Youth Coalition will also be present. 

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