Protests follow anti-Christian terror in Egypt

For the first time, Coptic Christians took to the streets in Egypt in a series of angry protests after a bomb blast during New Year’s Eve midnight mass at Alexandria’s al-Qiddisin (Saints) Church left 32 dead and some 100 injured. Chanting “With our souls and blood we save the cross,” Copts marched through Cairo and tried to storm the Radio and TV headquarters in Maspero.

President Hosni Mubarak said the attack bore the hallmark of “foreign hands.” There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but al-Qaeda has threatened Egypt’s Copts in the recent months.

Thousands attended funerals of the victims late on Jan. 1 at a monastery outside Alexandria. Crowds of mourners shouted slogans and refused to accept official condolences. “No, no, no,” the crowd shouted as a church official tried to read out condolences from Mubarak.

Independent newspapers in Cairo warned Jan. 2 that “civil war” could break out unless Christians and Muslims stand together. The paper al-Shorouk said Christians had a right to be angry, but urged them not play into the game of “the instigators of the crime.” (Ahram Online, RFI, Jan. 2)

See our last post on Egypt and the Copts.

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  1. Egypt: signs of intelligent life
    From Egypt’s Ahram Online, Jan. 7:

    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.

    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 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. “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’s 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.