Thousands gather to mourn victims in Egypt church blast

Yasmine Fathi and Salma ElWardani in Alexandria, Sunday 2 Jan 2011

In Alexandria's Mary Mina Monastery, last night's New Year celebrations and prayers have been overshadowed by mourning

Photo: Nasser Nouri
Photo: Nasser Nouri

At the dawn of the New Year, Alexandria was covered with heavy showers. But the rain could not wash away the tragedy that hit the city the night before.

Nowhere was the tragedy more powerfully felt than at the Mary Mina Monastery, where thousands of mourners, who had come in from across Egypt, gathered to lay to rest the victims of the terror attack of the night before.

“We will sacrifice our blood and soul for Christ,” chanted members of the congregation in the sprawling monastery in the quiet Alexandrian suburb of King Maryout.

In the monastery's courtyard, gravediggers shoveled dirt to bury the 21 dead, who just yesterday were themselves praying in the church to kick-off the new year.

“We decided to bury them here, for security reasons,” a gravedigger who preferred to remain anonymous told AhramOnline. “We were worried that if we bury them within Alexandria, some clashes would take place.”

Women wailed and men, looking for some discretion, buried their heads into their hands and sobbed. For a moment amidst it all, the entire congregation jumped - startled by a loud noise, banging, shooting, the apparent threat of terror. 

“Are these bullets,” they whispered to one another as they jumped from their seats. “Are they coming here to finish us off?”

A Muslim Sheikh in attendance stood to help calm the crowds. Beside him, a Priest. It was the end of a hectic day for many of the city’s Coptic community, and it was an equally worrisome day for Muslims too. 

The attack that had killed 21 and injured 79 in front of the Saints Church in Sidi Bishr, rattled Muslims and Copts alike. The threat of terror has proved it has no bounds - no detector as to Muslim or Copt, young or old. For the Egyptian's gathered at the service today, the threat of terror, they say, has now gripped the lives, turning harmless noise into cause for panic. For Egypt's future, they fear what is to come.



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